48.7% Positive for COVID at Bali Prison

Kompas.com reports that mass testing of 1,300 inmates at Bali’s Kerobokan Prison between Monday, 19 October through Wednesday, 21 October 2020 resulted in 633 (48.7%) of those tested returning a “positive” result for the COVID-19.

A further 120 prisoners underwent swab testing on Wednesday, 21 October 2020, with the results still pending at the publication.

The Warden of the Kerobokan Penitentiary, Yulius Sahruzah, responding to questions on the numbers tested, said on Thursday, 22 October 2020: “There were about that many (633 testing positive). But we have not yet swabbed them all.”

Sahruzah said those prisoners testing positive, despite showing no symptoms, were now being isolated from the general prison population. 

Meanwhile, as part of the COVID-19 lockdown now underway, prisoners’ families are forbidden from making prison visits until further notice. However, arrangements are in place for the sending of food and personal items to inmates.


A subsequent update from Kompas.com. confirmed fears that further testing would reveal a significant cluster of new infections at Bali’s central prison. Speaking on Saturday, 24 October 2020, I Putu Surya Dharma, a spokesman for the Bali office of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, confirmed the number of positive cases in the men’s section of Kerobokan Prison now stood at 84 with a further 22 cases uncovered in the women’s section.

Surya Dharma said these numbers are almost certain to increase as the results of ongoing testing come in. 

Bali’s Provincial Health Service carried out the mass testing of prisoners.

In apparent denial of the large percentage of “positive” results, Warden Sharuzah said: “Hopefully, all the inmates will be well. They may not be infected, and they may instead be suffering from a lack of sleep or from their stressful living situation, which can also cause a positive test result. I hope the coronavirus has not infected them and that they are only testing with a “false positive.”

A Rapid Test for coronavirus only shows the presence of the COVID-19 antibody in the immune system. A “Positive Rapid Test” is only an indicator and must be followed up with additional testing using a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) Swab Test to confirm an actual infection.

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