Which country did the best job of responding to the pandemic in 2020, and what can we learn from them?
A successful response to Covid-19 turned out to depend on more than a country’s wealth, scientific prowess and history of public health successes.
The U.S. enjoys all of these advantages but mounted one of the worst responses to the pandemic: 1 in every 990 Americans has died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began. Bad politics, quite simply, can trump good public health.
Other developed countries that did well initially, such as Canada and some European nations, have faltered during the second or third surge of infections, because their governments and people grew tired of implementing effective strategies.
In many Asian countries, it has long been common for people to wear masks when feeling ill, so they adopted masks early and widely. Here below some countries are act as great example on handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Taiwan: Best at Early Action
1 reported Covid-19 death per 3,366,140 people
The world’s first awareness of Covid-19 came from cases among travelers arriving in Taiwan from Wuhan, China. The country quickly halted flights from much of China, quarantined travellers from other areas, stopped cruise ships from docking, implemented widespread testing and quadrupled production of face masks within a month. Taiwan also provided intensive support, including stipends, to patients with Covid-19 and people with whom they had come into contact, helping to increase adherence to public health recommendations. These early actions were pivotal in keeping Taiwan to under 800 cases all year, while avoiding lockdowns. The U.S. now has more cases and deaths every 5 minutes than Taiwan has had all year.
2. Liberia: Best at Learning from Recent Epidemics
1 reported Covid-19 death per 55,040 people
Liberia, hard hit by the Ebola epidemic in 2014, was one of the first countries to start screening for Covid-19 at airports and to adopt other control measures, such as rapid testing, complete contact tracing and quarantine. Many other countries in Africa, including Senegal and Uganda, also used their experiences from past disease outbreaks to implement swift, expert, comprehensive responses.
3. New Zaeland: Best at Crushing the Curve
1 reported Covid-19 death per 204,360 people
Like Taiwan, New Zealand is an island, which makes it far easier to enforce travel bans. Initial models showed that community spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand could potentially overwhelm the health care system. The country began implementing its pandemic influenza plan in February, including preparing hospitals and instituting border control policies. Because New Zealand lacked sufficient testing and contact tracing capacity, national leadership implemented a countrywide lockdown in late March with the goal of eliminating Covid-19 entirely.
By June, the pandemic was declared over in New Zealand, with the country reporting one of the lowest coronavirus-related mortality rates among all 37 OECD nations. Later cases were all from international travelers, who were kept in isolation for two weeks post-arrival, and not from community spread.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has exemplified empathetic, clear communication, which greatly increased New Zealanders’ willingness to cooperate and was essential to the country’s success.
4. American Samoa: Best Location at the U.S
Deaths from Covid-19: Zero
American Samoa remains the only territory in the U.S. without any Covid-19 cases, in part because health authorities were already on high alert. American Samoa remains the only territory in the U.S. without any Covid-19 cases, in part because health authorities were already on high alert following a measles outbreak in late 2019. In an effort to stave off the virus early, the territory of 55,000 people halted all incoming passenger flights. As a result of this near-total isolation, American Samoa has not had to implement widespread closures, distancing or testing. Similar actions 100 years ago allowed the territory to avoid any deaths from the 1918 influenza pandemic.
5. South Korea: Best at Testing
1 reported Covid-19 death per 63,290 people
When it became clear that people without symptoms could spread Covid-19, South Korea tested early and aggressively, conducting more than twice as many tests per capita as other countries in the pandemic’s first weeks. Along with other measures, including extensive and highly effective contact tracing and quarantine, this kept cases from increasing rapidly.
6. Hongkong: Best at Quarantining
1 reported Covid-19 death per 54,810 people
Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world, yet it kept cases low by establishing mandatory isolation protocols and quarantine centres for people with Covid-19 and those who came in close contact with them.
7. Denmark: Best Economic Protection
1 reported Covid-19 death per 4,970 people
Some countries excelled at protecting people economically and socially. In Denmark, the government has covered a portion of employees’ salaries in private companies to avoid large-scale layoffs. Notable mentions go to India, the European Union and Australia, which quickly provided income supplements to lower-income people using electronic cash transfers. Colombia went out of its way to protect vulnerable Venezuelan migrants, who weren’t eligible for cash transfers, by establishing shelters and food centres.
8. Finland: Best at Public Communication
1 reported Covid-19 death per 10,510 people
A few countries have fought rumours and distrust by sharing information with the public widely and openly. Finland, helped by its high media literacy, was able to build on a 2014 initiative that educated people about how to counter false information. One Finnish project partners with social-media influencers to spread accurate information on digital platforms.
The countries that performed best have learned from their mistakes and used data to continuously improve. South Africa has also excelled at clear communication, including strategic use of an alert-level system that empowers people to understand their risk and helps the government make transparent and balanced decisions about closures. Germany’s leaders have also been models of clarity and effective communication, with Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for citizens to exhibit “patience, discipline and solidarity”—three essential aspects of an effective pandemic response.
Most people, including many health professionals, never imagined the toll that Covid-19 would take. The countries that performed best have learned from their mistakes and used data to continuously improve public health, primary care, emergency response and health communication.
Even as we begin to roll out vaccines, we need to keep learning from experience what works in fighting Covid-19. This isn’t the last disease threat our world will face, and the past year has shown that we are all connected: Until every country is safer, all of us are at risk. When the next pandemic strikes, the whole world needs to implement best practices to save lives and protect livelihoods. Now is our opportunity to improve global preparedness; if we don’t apply the lessons of 2020 in 2021, we never will.
Indonesia might be not on the list, but we still never stop to do the COVID-19 prevention in the society. Following the health protocols should be always be in the heart of every Indonesian Citizen. Let’s hope that Indonesia can also getting out from the pandemic crisis and becoming the country which is surviving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While installing economic incentives, stimulus packages and social safety nets have been important to build economic resilience at home, bolstering international economic cooperation and innovation in the post-pandemic economic period is also critical. The pandemic caused Indonesia’s gross domestic product to contract 1 percent in 2020, and it is expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2021.
Indonesia must be able to work with other countries to bounce back, stimulate more economic initiatives and provide avenues to prevent a deeper economic downturn and crisis. Innovative cooperation between Indonesia and partner countries such as the United States, China, Japan and ASEAN neighbours is imperative.
Indonesia is working together with the US, China and the United Arab Emirates to explore the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 while securing equal access to the vaccine for developing countries once it becomes available. We always hope Indonesia will bounce back like before the pandemic era. Stay safe!
Countries around the world are beginning to vaccinate their populations against Covid-19.
This column calculates the global economic costs from the absence of an equitable distribution of vaccines, with a focus on international trade and production linkages.
Under the scenario where advanced economies are vaccinated universally within four months in 2021 but only 50% of the population is vaccinated in emerging markets and developing economies by early 2022, it finds that the global economic costs might be as high as $3.8 trillion. Up to 49% of these costs are borne by advanced economies.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a drastic impact in 2020. Based on the update to the IMF’s October 2020 forecasts (IMF 2021), the world economy is expected to have contracted by 3.5% in 2020. In our recent work (Çakmaklı et al. 2021), we focus on one particular channel – international trade and production linkages – and calculate the global economic costs that would arise in the absence of equitable distribution of vaccines.
Under the scenario where the advanced economies (AE) are vaccinated universally within four months in 2021 but only 50% of the population is vaccinated in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) by early 2022, we find that the global economic costs might be as high as $3.8 trillion. More importantly, up to 49% of these costs are borne by advanced economies. These estimates are calibrated from country-specific data as of end of 2020 regarding the course of the pandemic.
The global suffering of people around the world reminds us of John Donne’s eloquent expression that “no man is an island”. Our findings reveal an economic counterpart to this expression where “no economy is an island”. The economic interdependencies of countries imply that the economic drag in one country has immediate and grave consequences for the others. The economic losses of the pandemic can only be mitigated through multilateral coordination ensuring the equitable access of vaccines, tests, and therapeutics.
One of our key findings is that AEs still suffer from the economic costs of the pandemic even if they effectively vaccinate their populations and totally contain the pandemic. These costs stem from their trade linkages with unvaccinated countries. The trade linkages lead to a decline in exports to unvaccinated countries or in imports from unvaccinated countries. Both are amplified though international and domestic input-output linkages.
The decline in exports of final and intermediate goods reflects the fact that unvaccinated countries still suffer from low domestic demand at home and cannot buy as many goods and services from AEs. Similarly, the declines in imports of final and intermediate goods from EMDEs reflect the lower levels of production in these unvaccinated countries. Since such goods are inputs to the production in AEs in certain sectors and sectors are linked to each other, the costs spread throughout the economies of AEs.
We assume strong complementarities between sectors and that global supply chains are fixed in the short run under price stickiness.
Hence, there is no reallocation of labour across sectors or substitution between intermediate inputs. We believe these assumptions can characterise reality in the short run under a health shock, and could be rationalised by the approach of Baqaee and Farhi (2020a, 2020b), who provide a general framework. Consistent with these assumptions, we use pre-pandemic trade and production network data from 2019. Hence, our findings deliver upper bound estimates on the global costs of insufficient vaccinations in EMDEs going forward for 2021. We obtain these estimates by linking the existing trade and production networks with an epidemiological model. Country-specific infection dynamics determine the extent of demand and supply shocks, both domestic and foreign.
The empirical framework, calibrated to 65 countries and 35 sectors, implies that the economic costs are proportional to the openness of the countries with extensive sectoral heterogeneity as shown in Figure 1.
The key takeaways from the figure are the following:
• The overall sectoral costs borne by the unvaccinated EMDEs (panel b) are significantly larger than the vaccinated AEs (panel a) in each sector. These losses are also larger than the ones we report for EMDEs in our earlier work (Çakmaklı et al. 2020), which analyses these losses only using the demand shocks.
• The sectoral costs for the unvaccinated countries are the highest for those sectors that are more severely affected from the domestic pandemic conditions such as accommodation and food services, arts and entertainment, or real estate (Panel b). The economic costs in these sectors primarily reflect the decline in demand due to the ‘fear factor’ in these countries where most people engage in voluntary social distancing. This is a typical sectoral ranking for pandemic-related losses as highlighted by the closed economy literature (e.g. Gourinchas et al. 2020).
• When we turn to AEs that are vaccinated at a faster pace, in panel (a) we observe a starkly different sectoral ranking in terms of losses. Because the domestic drag from the pandemic is eliminated in these countries, the sectors that bear the highest economic costs are those that are more exposed to trade with unvaccinated countries, either directly or through input-output linkages, such as agriculture and fishing, wholesale and retail, or basic metals industries.
• In order to give a glance about the sectoral costs with respect to trade exposure, we plot a couple of countries with different levels of trade openness. The idea is to visually illustrate whether those countries that are more open to trade suffer larger sectoral costs. Among AEs, we observe that the sectoral costs are generally higher in the Netherlands compared to US, for example, consistent with more trade exposure. A similar picture emerges when we compare the sectoral costs for two EMDE countries. Turkey is more open to trade relative to Brazil. Consequently, sectoral costs borne by Turkey, are generally higher than those of Brazil.
The research demonstrates the importance of making the vaccine globally available, not from a moral standpoint but from an economic one, by illustrating the large economic costs in the absence of global vaccinations. Ironically, a significant portion of these costs will be borne by the advanced countries, despite the fact that they might vaccinate most of their citizens by the summer of 2021. This is because AEs are tightly connected to unvaccinated trading partners, which consist of a large number of EMDEs.
Thus, the devastating economic conditions in these countries under the ongoing pandemic can cause a non-negligible drag on the AEs as well. Even though AEs relative costs are less than that of EMDEs as a percentage of their GDPs, their larger sizes imply that they might bear up to 50% of the total global costs. Within the group of AEs, the relative costs increase proportional to their exposure to unvaccinated trade partners.
World Health Organization Director, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, and the President of the European Commission, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, noted that “[n]one of us will be safe until everyone is safe”. Our findings extend this argument to the economies by showing that no economy fully recovers until every economy recovers.
As quoted from KOMPAS.com, the Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy (Menparekraf) Sandiaga Uno has recently declared Bali as a health-based tourism destination (medical tourism).
A press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Wednesday (31/3/2021), stated that the decision was made to open job oportunities and restore the glory of the island’s tourism sector.
“We are launching a health-based tourism…, a pillar effort to spread enthusiasm in the midst of a pandemic…” the minister said.
This intention was conveyed by Sandiaga after a discussion with the Udayana University community and the Bali Provincial Government (Pemprov) in Badung Regency, Bali on Wednesday.
Through the collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Udayana University, and the Regional Government (Pemda), Bali will be used as a reference for medical services, not very different from our neighboring countries Singapore, Bangkok, and Malaysia.
He further revealed that Bali as a health-based tourist destination will have various advantage; in particular, the involvement of tourism villages.
Not only providing inner peace through the beauty of nature while undergoing treatment, these tourism villages will also provide a variety of traditional archipelago treatments.
“This is what we will change; this mindset,” “Proud to be Indonesian means proud to be medically treated within Indonesia,” said Sandiaga. He also hopes that the healing tourism can involve tourism villages and have the ability to showcase the power of our traditional medicine.
To realize the dream of making Bali as a health-based tourist destination, Sandiaga said that a collaboration from all parties will be very much needed, especially regarding the plan to build an international-standard hospital in the island.
According to the minister, the presence of such hospital is believed to be able to make Bali a health-based tourist destination that, in time, will directly absorb a large number of workers.
“Udayana Medical Tourism 2021 will be our partner in establishing a medical tourism ecosystem,” Sandiaga then added.
The ministry itself will have to coordinate with other ministries and agencies to provide incentives and other opportunities.
Well, what do you think? Among every other plan that have previously been bestowed upon the island, this one is, in all honesty, one of the most surprising ones. If we were not stuck in this pandemic, we strongly suspect that there will be even the smallest thought of the idea.
However, we strongly support the idea and think that this could actually be realized in the future. With the fast movement of the country’s healthcare system, we say it’s about time we have an international-standard hospital od our own and stop giving away our money to foreign countries. You know, just our two cents.
What do you think, is this a great idea? Let us know in the comment; and until next time, stay safe and healthy!
A coronavirus breathalyzer is a diagnostic medical device enabling the user to determine with 90% or greater accuracy the presence of coronavirus in an exhaled breath.
As of the first half of 2020, the idea of a practical coronavirus breathalyzer was concomitantly developed by unrelated research groups in the United States, Finland, Israel, Indonesia, England, Australia and Germany.
In Indonesia we have GeNose C19 or Gadjah Mada Electronic Nose is the newest medical device innovation designed by UGM to detect Covid-19 symptoms only using people’s breath rapidly. The tool developed by prof. Dr. Eng. Kuwat Triyana, M.Sc., and the team are currently proceeding to the diagnostic test phase before being mass-produced at the end of the year. “We want to set the price cheaper so that we can achieve the social value to help the society in overcoming Covid-19,” Kuwat told reporters. After signing the memorandum of understanding for the GeNose C19 diagnostic test cooperation between UGM and Sardjito Hospital on Monday (26/10) at Sardjito Hospital Training Room, he conveyed this information.
He revealed that this tool had been permitted by the Ministry of Health to promptly undergo diagnostic tests at nine partner hospitals, Dr. Sardjito. The diagnostic test design was cross-sectional and triple blinded. Meanwhile, the subjects’ recruitment is multicenter consecutive sampling until balanced sample size is achieved between the positive Covid-19 and Covid-19 negative groups. In the initial stages of implementing GeNose C19, it will run as a Covid-19 screening tool. As it is being evaluated for accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity, it can hopefully be enhanced to a Covid-19 diagnostic tool equivalent to a swab / PCR.
GeNose C19, an instant Covid-19 detection tool developed by Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, has secured a distribution license from the Health Ministry, paving its way for public use, the university’s development team said in a statement on Saturday. Unlike the existing tests, which use blood, saliva, or nasal fluid for detecting the novel coronavirus’s genetic marker, GeNose analyzes one’s breath using artificial intelligence technology, offering a much faster and cheaper process with comparable accuracy to the existing tests.
Meanwhile, Bali Ngurah Rai Airport has reported a significant increase in passengers so far in March. The General Manager of Angkasa Pura I Ltd from Ngurah Rai Airport, Herry A.Y. Sikado said that the airport recorded a 35 percent of increase in flights compared with the data from February 2021. “We received 109,046 passengers on the middle of the March that consist of 54,777 departures and 54,269 arrivals, and that was 35% higher than the same period of time on February 2021” said Sikado on Wednesday (17/3). He also explained that there were 644 incoming flights and 650 take offs in the first half of March, and that showed 5 percent on increase in comparison with last month. “Our data shows an increase in domestic air travel service, despite the Day of Silence celebration on the 14th of March when we had to close the airport from operating for 24 hours,” Sikado added.
Despite an increase on the number of flights that potentially could create a crowd inside the airport, Sikado admitted that his team has been consistently monitoring health protocols inside the Ngurah Rai airport facility. “We keep assuring that everyone including the passengers comply with the health protocols while using the facility. We also placed officials from the Health Office to check the swab and rapid antigen test document from each passenger upon arrival” Sikado concluded.
Due to this demand, Genose is really promising to put in Ngurah Rai International airport as an optional for the passengers when they are going back from and to Bali. Because the current regulation stated in accordance with the Covid-19 Handling Task Force’s decree Number 17 Year 2021, all passengers are required to show proof of a negative PCR swab test which was taken no longer than 2 days prior to the departure or rapid antigen test document taken 24 hours prior to departure.
Genose it self has an aim to increase mass testing of coronavirus at hospitals, airports, seaports and other public places in the world’s fourth most populous country. Genose can give the faster result which the most important thing that we need due to the current situation. Professor Kuwat Triyana, who led the GeNose research project, said a single test takes barely a minute and a half to produce a result, compared to the two days or longer for the standard PCR nasal swab test. “The workflow is very easy,” he said. “The breath is taken from your mouth, put into a bag, sealed, then plugged into the machine whose software interprets it, all within about 80 seconds.
While Professor Kuwat says the breathalyser’s accuracy will only improve as it is used more widely, he acknowledges the breathalyser is less reliable than the existing PCR test, which is seen as the gold standard for detecting COVID-19 around the world. “With this [device] we can screen people and set aside those who are negative,” he said. “The rest can then be sent to do a PCR test.” Professor Catherine Bennett, chair of Epidemiology at Australia’s Deakin University, said existing evidence from before the pandemic supports the feasibility of devices like the GeNose C-19 breathalyser. “The science is there,” she said. “You can pick up signatures of virus infections.” She says the test is akin to a “sniffer dog”. “They’re able to detect volatile compounds — that’s how they use them to test for explosives, and they’ve already trialled them, testing for COVID-19 as well,” she said. “The question is whether it’s distinctive enough for COVID, to be able to tell the difference between someone with a common cold and COVID.”
The country right now has struggled to meet the World Health Organization’s minimum recommendation of one test for every 1,000 people per week — or 270,000 people in a population of 270 million. “Hopefully this device can help to solve the COVID crisis in Indonesia,” Professor Kuwat said. “We can cut this chain of COVID relatively quickly, in one or two months.” Professor Bennett agrees that even with a lower accuracy rate than the PCR test, the GeNose device could make a big difference in Indonesia. “If you’ve got people who aren’t testing, and this is a way of grabbing them when they’re at work or at shopping centres and doing a very rapid test, it’s not as accurate but it will give you a group of people that you can then direct to more formal testing,” she said.”It won’t capture everyone. You’re still going to miss 10 per cent of the true cases that are out there. “But you going to pick up 90 per cent of them. And you’re not doing that at the moment if these are people who aren’t testing. So rapid testing does make a difference.”
Even though genose seems promising test, but we still need to do the vaccine before we can fully travel around the world. Professor Bennett also warns that vaccinations could undermine the efficacy of rapid tests, because it isn’t known “whether you could still be detected if you were carrying the virus but not actively infected by it and didn’t have symptoms As we know, vaccine and health protocols are really necessary to stop the spread of the virus. So we always warn you to keep the health protocols in check and get the vaccinated before decided to go travel or having business aboard, especially to Bali Indonesia. Remember to stay safe whenever you are right now and take a very careful note in every document you should carry around with you when you are going to travel. Stay safe and See you in Bali!
How often do we hear about people catching Covid-19 from family cluster? The answer is, way too often. Like any other viruses, one of the scariest thing about Covid-19 is the possibility to spread it to our loved ones. Even if we have done all the precautions and follow health protocols, there’s still a possibility that we caught the virus and unknowingly bring it home, putting our loved ones in danger of getting it, too.
While I’m sure that everyone here has been staying home and following all the rules, let’s just be honest. After a year of pandemic, there’s just no way that we stay home all the time. Many of us has to go back to work to make money, and there are also plenty other reasons that force us to go outside (and even out of town) every once in a while.
With the air travelling system being reinforced and once again up-and-running, it’s becoming easier for us to both getting out of town, and also getting a bigger chance to catch the virus. If you have been travelling and you have your loved ones at home that you would not want to share the virus with, here is a safety measure you can (and hopefully) do before setting your feet at the comfort of your home: doing a private isolation for at least five days outside of home.
Sure you can pretend to have a camping trip by staying in a tent, but come on, how comfortable could it be? Well, being in isolation doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort; and what can be more comfortable than staying in a four star hotel, right?
Well, if you agree with me, here is one particular hotel that will provide you with everything you need during your private isolation: The Ramada By Wyndham Bali.
Located in the heart of Bali tourism Sunset Road, the Ramada by Wyndham offers you plenty of room types to suit your need. From single bed to double beds, breakfast-included packages to bed-only ones, there will always be something suitable for you.
It is important that people who are required to comply with quarantine/isolation protocols are provided with support and care. Hotel staff who follow hand hygiene principles, physical distancing rules, and adherence to isolation guidelines, are at minimal risk.
The WHO has issued a document that sets out the minimum standard required for staff, including contracted staff, employed at hotels that have guests who have been directed to quarantine or isolate at a hotel that is not a State Health Incident Control Centre (SHICC) hotel. Hotels should consider having closed circuit television (CCTV) and some form of security is recommended. However, all hotels must have a front desk that is manned 24 hours a day.
Privacy of guests must always be maintained. The COVID-19 status of all guests must be kept confidential. All guests who are required to quarantine/isolate should be managed in the same manner, regardless of their COVID-19 status.
With strict rules from the WHO regarding the operational protocols for hotels offering private isolation packages, we can rest assured that our health and safety becomes the main priority for such accommodation; including the Ramada by Wyndham Bali Hotel at Sunset Road. Will you give it a try next time you come in from your over-town business trips?
Though we are happy to see more people coming to Bali, we have to admit that opening the border for tourists has a negative impact too. With the positive cases of Covid-19 skyrocketing due to health protocol violations, let us take a moment to step back and inspect what we have done wrong.
While the use of ace masks have been mandatory all across the island, many people are still taking this lightly. Tourists were seen roaming the streets with their masks hanging on the chin, eliminating the effectivity of the masks altogether.
Malls were packed with people, whom despite of their body temperatures, might still be non-symptomatic carriers of the virus; and although they were encouraged to maintain safe distances from fellow visitors, well, it simply wasn’t the case.
As the photos of Health Protocol Violations circulated some weeks ago, headlines in several local outlets included the phrase “naughty bule” for those caught not wearing masks properly — or at all. Bule is an Indonesian word for foreigners, especially Caucasians, and the spots they tend to favour have become a focus for authorities.
Many head to the Badung regency area, where the popular Kuta and Seminyak beaches are located. Here, local authorities have recorded the highest number of coronavirus health protocol violations in Bali, with 8,864 offences occurring up to this week.
“Most of [the offences] were not bringing their masks, not wearing them properly, and some businesses not applying health protocols,” Badung regency Public Order Agency chief I Gusti Agung Kerta Suryanegara told the ABC.
While many of them were local Balinese, Mr Suryanegara said 80 per cent of people who had been fined for violating COVID-19 regulations were foreigners, mostly from Europe. “Some foreigners were found walking on the beach, sitting in restaurants, and riding motorbikes without masks,” he said.
Mr Suryanegara said foreigners who had been caught seemed to underestimate the strength of health protocols in Bali and those who had been fined were “naughty”. But those who committed minor mistakes, such as bringing their mask but not wearing it, were asked to do push-ups or sweep the street.
Although many Australians have been cautioned for not properly wearing masks, none have yet been fined over that. Some, however, were fined because they were “showing resistance” like “talking back”, or not being cooperative, when approached by officers, Mr Suryanegara said.
I’m not saying that Indonesians are well behaved, but fines were given as the [last resort], which means that [those who were fined] didn’t want to comply and were very defensive,” Mr Suryanegara said.
In September, Bali started fining residents caught without a face mask 100,000 rupiah ($9). Overall, the Public Order Agency has recorded more than 15,000 offences in Bali since the mandatory mask rule was introduced. Mr Suryanegara said so far authorities have gathered 15.3 million rupiah ($1,400) from the fines in Badung alone.
Kadek Astika lives in Kerobokan, in Badung regency, and operates a couple of villas in the area. She said the breaching of health protocols during the pandemic showed how outsiders, such as foreigners and tourists, often did not respect local culture.
“Even before the pandemic we have already seen many foreign tourists, particularly the young ones not following the rules, such as riding bikes without helmets or getting drunk and then involved in brawls on the streets,” Ms Astika said.
“Some of them also violated our traditions and values by disrespecting sacred sites with their behaviour when visiting temples.” But Ms Astika said it was not just foreigners or local tourists ignoring the health directives. “Our pecalang [traditional Balinese security forces] has been tirelessly trying to discipline local people too,” she said.
According to the country’s National COVID-19 Task Force, the compliance rate for wearing masks in Bali is 96.5 per cent, while maintaining physical distancing is 92 per cent. That makes the island’s compliance with COVID-19 protocols the best in Indonesia.
Indonesia began rolling out its vaccination program last Wednesday, with President Joko Widodo receiving the first jab of the Chinese-developed Sinovac vaccine. Bali started administering vaccinations the following day.
Throughout the pandemic, more than 850,000 people in Indonesia have been infected and there has been more than 20,000 cases in Bali. Indonesia recorded its highest number of daily cases — 11,557 — on Thursday, two weeks after end-of-year holidays. Tighter restrictions had been imposed in Java and Bali, requiring places including shopping centres, malls, and restaurants to close by 9:00pm.
However, local media reported that authorities were involved in an argument after several foreigners refused to leave a restaurant after the deadline. The video of the dispute was posted on Instagram.
Last week, the Governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster, said since many foreigners were “difficult to manage” the Bali Government would take further action. “Tourists not wearing masks will not be given entry to tourist destinations and restaurants,” Mr Koster said.
“So they will not be given any services if they don’t wear a mask. “That’s our decision … because there are already many violations committed by foreign tourists.” Mr Suryanegara from the Public Order Agency said he hoped the tighter restrictions would “make everyone, not just foreigners, obey the rules”
With the vaccines being distributed across the country, let’s all get the shot and ditch this virus once and for all. Let’s hope for a Covid-free 2021. Like always, stay safe and stay healthy!