Bali official claims to have misspoken, takes back confirmation on African Swine Fever causing mass pig deaths on the island

Pork for sale at a local market in Denpasar City, Bali. Photo: Denpasar City Agriculture Agency
Pork for sale at a local market in Denpasar City, Bali. Photo: Denpasar City Agriculture Agency

The rest of the world might be all up in the coronavirus news cycle, and while the attention in Bali has not been far from that either, it has also been directed at the mass swine deaths in the province ⁠— which earlier this week was confirmed by an official to have been caused by the African Swine Fever (ASF). 

Today, however, we are learning that the official ⁠— Head of Bali’s Agriculture and Food Security Agency Ida Bagus Wisnuwardhana ⁠— had probably misspoken, and that authorities in Bali are actually still waiting for lab results. 

“At the time, I was asked for a statement, and honestly it stressed me out, I was shocked, so I misspoke,” Bagus said earlier today, as quoted by Kumparan

Ay ay ay, it’s times like these that makes it ridiculously difficult not to suddenly get high blood pressure. 

Regional Secretary for the Bali province, Dewa Made Indra, explained that Bagus, who he said had a degree in agriculture and therefore is not a medical professional, initially (and incorrectly) understood that exhibiting certain symptoms were equivalent to a positive result. 

“Even I have to learn the difference between observation, suspicion, and other things, because those are medical terms,” Indra said.

“But what’s important is that he has rectified his statement.” 

We understand that government officials are also human beings and therefore capable of making mistakes, but surely there’s a better protocol in place that would actually prevent such colossal miscommunication from taking place? We sure hope so, though this latest incident may actually be enough to answer that question. 

“For the time being, in regards to the swine deaths being caused by ASF is only suspected, it is not confirmed to be positive,” Indra said, as quoted by state news agency Antara

He noted that there has been a total of 888 pigs death recorded across Bali, and that they died after exhibiting similar symptoms, including fever, diarrhea and vomiting; though another source from the agriculture and food security agency placed the number at nearly 1,200 pigs on Monday.

Officials said they have sent blood samples to a veterinary laboratory in the North Sumatra capital of Medan, which is said to be better-equipped than the ones in Bali, but that they have yet to receive the results. 

Bagus, meanwhile, claims that there hasn’t been any pig deaths in the past 10 days. 

The Bali provincial government held a campaign to promote pork consumption earlier today, which was aimed to dispel concerns among the public with regards to the ASF. 

“Pork meat is safe, as long as it’s cooked correctly and until it’s well-done,” Indra said.

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