Maskless foreigners in Canggu, Kerobokan spark rise in COVID-19 cases: Official

File photo of tourists on Kuta Beach, before the pandemic. Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP
File photo of tourists on Kuta Beach, before the pandemic. Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP

An official in Bali is laying the blame for the island’s rising COVID-19 caseload on maskless foreigners, particularly in areas that have become among the most popular since the Island of Gods reopened its gates to international visitors this year.

Bali Health Agency Head I Nyoman Gede Anom said that 18 out of 56 people who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday were foreigners.

“Since the beginning of my tenure, there have been cases of foreigners testing positive [for COVID-19]. In fact, the numbers are often higher than that of Indonesians,” said Nyoman, who was installed as Bali’s health chief in April.

According to Nyoman, out of 51 new cases on Wednesday, 21 of them were foreigners. The agency also recorded 17 foreigners testing positive on Tuesday out of 65 new cases that day.

Nyoman cited foreigners going maskless in public to be among the causes of the caseload spike. The maskless foreigners, he said, are often seen in North Kuta’s Canggu and Kerobokan.

“These [foreign citizens] bring their bad habits from their countries of origin of not wearing masks. Over there they’re free [to not wear masks]. In fact, it’s our people who are disciplined in wearing masks, while [foreigners] are used to not wearing masks from the beginning,” he added, without going into specifics of the foreigners’ nationalities.

In order to curb the spread of COVID-19 amongst foreigners, Nyoman said that his department will immediately enforce health protocols as well as maximizing vaccination efforts.  

A win some, lose some situation, it seems, in terms of Bali’s tourism revival vs COVID-19 crisis.

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