Bali administration mulling plan to include police, military personnel to enforce health protocols in traditional markets

Police officers monitoring passersby in Denpasar in May 2020. Photo: Bali Police Traffic Directorate / Instagram
Police officers monitoring passersby in Denpasar in May 2020. Photo: Bali Police Traffic Directorate / Instagram

Police and military personnel may be deployed to traditional markets across Bali to step up monitoring and ensure compliance of existing health protocols, an official said, following the increase of locally transmitted coronavirus cases that now make up nearly 60 percent of the provincial total. 

“We need a strong monitoring effort and control around traditional markets involving the military and police, so that [they can] reassert health protocols to those who aren’t complying,” Dewa Made Indra, regional secretary of the Bali administration, said yesterday. 

As of yesterday afternoon, Bali has recorded 782 COVID-19 cases including 510 recoveries and six deaths. Denpasar city has the highest number of cases at 211, followed by Buleleng, Bangli and Badung regencies at 111, 105, and 104 cases respectively. 

Locally transmitted cases now make up around 59 percent of all cases in the province, showcasing a recent spike that health officials traced back to traditional markets, in which both vendors and market visitors are reportedly still neglecting proper social distancing and mask-wearing requirements. 

“When we conduct further research, these local transmissions mostly spread in traditional markets and create high-risk new clusters,” Indra continued.

Last week, a number of sellers at traditional markets in Denpasar tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting mass testing for their fellow vendors. However, city officials admitted that contact tracing is tricky, especially to track buyers.

Bali officials are also planning to step up efforts in raising awareness among the public and will instruct the local task forces to strengthen efforts in minimizing local transmissions in villages across the island. 

However, it looks like these are still plans for the time being, with Indra emphasizing on the importance of cooperation among relevant stakeholders and adding that the ideas may be made into an official policy or regulation in the near future.

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