2 people under COVID-19 monitoring allegedly escaped quarantine facility in Bali

Health screening at Padang Bai. Photo for illustration purpose only. Photo: Karangasem Regency / Twitter
Health screening at Padang Bai. Photo for illustration purpose only. Photo: Karangasem Regency / Twitter

Two people under monitoring for COVID-19 in Bali reportedly “ran away” from a quarantine facility earlier this week. The incident, which quickly made its way to the news cycle, has sparked a huge reaction and backlash on social media amid heightened concerns about the spread of the viral disease on the island. 

I Made Rentin, who heads Bali Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), told Detik yesterday that they have since returned to the facility. 

“They were picked up by my staff. I was appointed by the chief of [Bali’s COVID-19] task force to lead this operation. I approached them. We argued for about 30 minutes, and then they were cognizant. Now they have returned [to quarantine],” Rentin was quoted as saying. 

Local media outlets and popular social media accounts from Bali framed the incident, which took place on Tuesday, as a breakout, leading to speculations and doxxing of the people involved. A letter issued by the Bali Health Agency, which contains their names, address and phone number, also leaked to the public, giving way for one-sided scrutiny. 

The incident involved a father and his 17-year-old daughter, the latter of whom had just returned from the United Kingdom. The other side of the story was shared by the teenager’s mother, identified as Bintang, to Kumparan, who told the outlet that her two daughters had flown in on Monday.

Bintang said authorities did not screen everyone on her daughters’ flight, and, despite showing normal temperatures, then decided that her younger daughter should be quarantined with the Bali Health Agency. 

“So the Port Health Authority did not have strong reasoning, why did they pick the passengers at random to be quarantined? Why is it that the other 40 passengers [on the same flight] can just freely leave? Why did one person who did not show any symptoms was chosen to be quarantined? And she’s only 17, not yet an adult,” Bintang was quoted as saying.

Her husband then decided to accompany their younger daughter to the quarantine facility, and found that it did not appear hygienic. Fearing that the inadequate space would compromise their health, her husband then decided to go back home to self-quarantine.

Indonesia’s current travel restrictions include refusal of entry for passengers who have been to the UK within 14 days of travel to the country. However, Indonesian citizens falling under this category are instead subject to a health screening by the Port Health Authority upon arrival. Should authorities find that they are exhibiting early symptoms of COVID-19, they will be observed at a government facility for two weeks. On the other hand, those who do not exhibit early symptoms are advised to self-quarantine for the same period. 

“She feels that she is healthy but then we explained that some cases involve those who did not have any health complaints and feel fine but later testing positive. After hearing that, she came to her senses,” Rentin explained. 

Unfortunately, hoaxes quickly circulated following the incident, with some reports claiming that both father and daughter were COVID-19 positive. Bintang also expressed frustration in having dozens of authorities from the task force coming to their house to force her daughter to return to the quarantine facility. 

The government has implemented stronger measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, but there have been noticeable hiccups along the way. This recent incident in Bali is reminiscent of the first two cases confirmed in Indonesia earlier this month, when both patients also lost their privacy due to their information being leaked to the public. 

As of yesterday afternoon, official data from the Health Ministry show three additional COVID-19 cases in Bali, bringing the local total to nine cases, including two deaths. 

Indonesia has confirmed a total of 790 cases, including 58 deaths and 31 recoveries.

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