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Jakarta Post

Bali hamlet put under lockdown after tests indicate over 400 people 'reactive' to virus

  • Ni Komang Erviani

    The Jakarta Post

Bangli, Bali   /   Sat, May 2, 2020   /   12:25 pm
Bali hamlet put under lockdown after tests indicate over 400 people 'reactive' to virus A general view shows a near-empty beach in Kuta on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on March 22, 2020. (AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka)

Serokadan hamlet in Abuan village, Bangli regency, located in the central part of Bali, was put under lockdown on Thursday after rapid tests indicated it was probable that hundreds of its residents were infected by the coronavirus.

The Bali provincial COVID 19 task force team took 1,200 blood samples from residents of the hamlet on Thursday, of which more than 400 returned "reactive" results after rapid testing.

"We have followed up the rapid test results by taking swab samples for further PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests to get accurate results on whether they are positive for COVID-19 or not. Of course, we will use the swab test results as the final results," the task force’s executive chairman, Dewa Made Indra, said.

Bangli regency subsequently decided to put the hamlet under lockdown to prevent the virus from further spreading. With residents no longer allowed to leave the area, authorities prepared on Friday public kitchens within the hamlet to serve food.

"Starting Thursday, Serokadan hamlet in Abuan village is isolated, closed. No one is allowed to enter or leave the hamlet," he said.

The rapid tests in Abuan village took place following findings that eight of the village's residents contracted the virus through local transmission after reportedly coming into contact with a migrant worker who had just returned from abroad but ignored self-quarantine protocol.

Medical workers were set to continue with more rapid testing on Friday, targeting tests on more than 2,600 residents in the village.

Some 200 residents of Padang Kerta village in Karangasem regency also took part in COVID-19 rapid testing after authorities found that six villagers tested positive for the coronavirus.

The infected villagers were identified following contact tracing of a migrant worker who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from overseas.

“We have conducted rapid tests in Padang Kerta village. So far, we found 12 people with ‘reactive’ results,” Dewa Made Indra said.

Read also: Indonesia's strategy to end COVID-19 outbreak lacks effectiveness: Study

Bali, which has seen its tourism plummet due to the pandemic, has thus far recorded at least 235 coronavirus cases with four fatalities, according to the central government's official tally on Friday.

At least eight of the infected people on the resort island are foreigners, while some 137 cases were imported. The province recorded 57 cases as a result of local transmission.

Concerns have been raised over Balinese migrant workers who returned home from abroad, including those employed on international cruise liners, as 134 out of 137 imported cases were those of migrant workers who returned to Bali.

More than 10,000 migrant workers have reportedly returned to the island since March. Authorities said thousands more workers might come home soon.

It is estimated that around 20,000 Balinese are working abroad, mostly in tourism as crew members of cruise ships.

Bali has implemented special protocol in handling the influx of migrant workers, including by providing special quarantine facilities in hotels and government compounds.

Before the new protocol was implemented, the government allowed migrant workers from overseas to return home provided they self-quarantine. Several migrant workers, however, reportedly ignored health protocols, putting local residents at risk.