The coronavirus is spreading across the globe right now, but Indonesia is being touted as the new ‘risk zone’ in Asia. With fears that Bali will emerge as Indonesia’s coronavirus hotspot, many travellers are wondering if it’s safe to wait it out there, or return home.
So, we’re giving you as much info as possible to determine whether you should stay or go. Ultimately, this is just circumstantial, and you should always look to official government advice for serious situations like this that evolve rapidly.
Current Coronavirus Cases in Bali:
Bali has just four confirmed Covid-19 cases so far. However, there’s concerns that these figures are hugely unreported. Indonesia has carried out less the 2000 COVID-19 tests on a population of more than 270 million, with researchers suggesting that half the nation’s 275 million people could be infected in the next few months…
In fact, academics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine that as few as 2% of Indonesia’s coronavirus infections have been reported.
Of the four cases in Bali, one British woman died. In Indonesia over all, the total number of cases to 893 and death toll is 78. This means a high fatality rate of 9%. It’s the highest death rate in South East Asia to date.
Tourists staying on Bali are reporting on social media that Bali’s health system is overrun with suspected cases:
And Until Recently, There Was No Testing Facilities on the Island
Bali had no coronavirus testing labs until March 21st, so results take a week or so to return from Jakarta.
“If there is not enough testing happening in the early stages, it’s very likely to happen because they won’t know it’s present until people start dying about three weeks later,” Joel Miller, a mathematical epidemiologist focusing on infectious diseases at Australia’s La Trobe University, told Al Jazeera.
Many Tourists are Staying Put…
Most tourists and Westerners here are on tourist or business visas that require them to leave Indonesia every 60 days. Now, with the majority of flights in and out of Bali cancelled, travellers are stranded. People say they are going to the airport and being refused on flights that are still running. This is due to their previous transits in Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
Now, visas are a real issue. Foreigners stuck in Indonesia due border closures and flight cancellations can apply for an emergency visa extension. But those are who are say the queues are lengthy. Hundreds were queuing daily at Bali’s immigration offices – not ideal for social distancing. As of today, tourists do not need to come in person and their visas will renew automatically.
There’s Still No Official Bali Lockdown, But People Are Staying Home
Until today, March 25th, tourists partied on. Images on social media of popular beaches of Semyinak and Canguu were of busy raves and sunbathers. Now, both locals and tourists are reportedly staying home on the request of the Bali Governor.
Popular tourist hotspots such as Tanah Lot, Bali Zoo and Jatiluwih Rice Terrace are shut to the public.
Bali lockdown pic.twitter.com/hOY1CgyTOy
— Rika putri (@rikaputtri_) March 26, 2020
So, to Stay or Go?
We looked to advice from the UK’s Foreign Travel Advice for Indonesia. They state that British nationals in Indonesia who wish to leave, should make arrangements to do so as soon as possible.
“The number of international flights out of Indonesia is reducing daily, to destinations within the region and globally, so you may not be able to leave Indonesia when you had planned to. Flights and medical evacuation may not be available, or become very expensive if you do not depart soon.”