Bali residents protest cremation of COVID-19 victim over alleged lack of notice

Fear and misapprehension have led some Indonesians’ refusal to allow the burial ⁠— and cremation, in some cases ⁠— of deceased patients to take place in their communities. Photo: Istimewa via Nusa Bali
Fear and misapprehension have led some Indonesians’ refusal to allow the burial ⁠— and cremation, in some cases ⁠— of deceased patients to take place in their communities. Photo: Istimewa via Nusa Bali

Health officials in Bali allegedly neglected to inform local residents of a sub-district in Buleleng regency on matters related to the cremation of a COVID-19 patient, leading to a collective refusal in the area for the process to take place over the weekend.  

Dozens of local residents refused a cremation process for a COVID-19 victim on Saturday, fearing that smoke from the coronavirus may lead to transmission of the virus.

“We didn’t know that the protocol for deceased COVID-19 patients allowed for cremation to take place. So it’s very natural that there was refusal,” Wawan Budianto, who spoke on behalf of a group of local residents from the Kampung Baru sub-district in Buleleng, said yesterday

“To be honest, we were shocked when we saw a bunch of people using PPEs enter our area, bringing with them a deceased body,” he continued, adding that no government official or authorities had informed them that the cremation of a COVID-19 patient was taking place that day. 

The residents urged the regional COVID-19 task force to at least inform the residents, and educate them on the safety of cremation for deceased coronavirus patients. 

I Gusti Made Oka, head of Kampung Baru sub-district, said his office had not been informed about the cremation of a deceased coronavirus patient either, reassuring residents that he will take the matter to the district government level. 

The funeral process for COVID-19 victims has sparked a number of controversies across different areas in Indonesia. On the one hand, fear and misapprehension have led some residents’ refusal to allow the burial ⁠— and cremation, in some cases ⁠— of deceased patients to take place in their communities. However, there are also those refusing to follow government protocol on burial of COVID-19 dead and possibly risking their own health. 

Read Also ‘Where’s that corona? I’ll swallow it,’ says Indonesian city councillor as he challenges COVID-19 precautions (Video)

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