Empty Hotels as COVID Isolation Centers?

Committee III of the Regional Representative Council of Indonesia (DPD-RI) urges the Provincial Government of Bali and the Regional Administrations in Bali to use the Island’s empty hotels as isolation centers for the rapidly mounting number of COVID-19 patients.

As reported by NusaBali, COVID-19 cases have dramatically increased over recent weeks, overwhelming the carrying capacity of isolation and quarantine rooms at coronavirus-ready hospitals in Bali.

Committee III of the National DPD-RI is charged with public policy matters impacting public health, custom, culture, and education.

DPD member, Senator Anak Agung Gde Agung, urged the use of otherwise empty hotels in Bali be used in the fight against the coronavirus during a hearing with Bali’s Traditional Village Council (MDA) and the Bali Provincial Indigenous Peoples’ Advancement Office (Dinas Pemajuan Masyarakat Adat Provinsi Bali), held at the Bali MDA Office on Wednesday, 9 September 2020. 

At the meeting, AA Gde Agung recommended that Bali emulate the Jakarta Metropolitan Government’s steps who converted the Senayan Sports Dormitory (Wisma Atlet Senayan, Jakarta) to house COVID-19 patients. In this way, Jakarta managed to centralize the handling of those affected by the contagious disease while, at the same time, limiting the further spread of the potentially fatal disease.

Continuing, Gde Agung said: “Hotels that are now empty because no guests are staying overnight, can be used for the isolation of Covid-19 patients. The government can cooperate with hotel owners.”

Senator Anak Agung Gde Agung is a member of the DPD RI.

The former Badung Regent (2005-2010, 2010-2015) explained that many countries continue to forbid their citizens from visiting Indonesia, including Bali. He believes the Island’s vacant hotels should be reactivated and used for the public’s good. “This is my recommendation to the Provincial Government of Bali and the traditional villages who are the first line of defense against COVID-19,” he said.

He said the Central Government in Jakarta could be asked to provide medical equipment needed to outfit the hotels converted to house COVID-19 patients. Saying that President Joko Widodo pays close attention to Bali’s circumstances, Agung said: “For medical equipment and medical personnel, I don’t think that will prove difficult because the Central Government is sure to help. Bali has the focus of Jakarta’s attention and has become a role model in the fight against the coronavirus and, for this reason, is certain to receive the full attention of Jakarta.” 

Gde Agung described the challenge faced by the Provincial Government of Bali and the Island’s 1,493 traditional villages in handling the COVID-19 pandemic as increasingly challenging. In the midst of the battle, the Senator said it is fitting to express appreciation to the Provincial Government for the synergy and commitment they have brought to the war by traditional villages’ associations in handling the current pandemic.

“However, due to the protracted course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage the ‘Traditional Village Mutual Cooperation Task Force’ to seek to be more professional and even stronger in the future. I encourage that more training is given to traditional villages and their members. Simultaneously, budgets dedicated to these ends must be maximized. This needs to be done because no can predict when the COVID-19 pandemic will subside,” said Agung.

Meanwhile, Bendesa Agung MDA Bali Province, Ida Panglingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, admitted that concerns are mounting following the spike in Covid-19 cases that now threatened the carrying capacity of the hospitals designated to handle coronavirus patients. Putra Sukahet said the occupancy rate at the Covid-19 designated hospitals in Bali has now reached 90 percent.

Reflecting on the hospitals in Bali nearing peak capacity, Sukahet said: “This means that there has been a surge in positive cases of Covid-19. Accordingly, we appeal to the public to further improve their discipline in implementing health protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Even though the government allows the public to be active in this ‘new era’ of Balinese life, they must continue to protect themselves and others by following all protocols: keep your distance, wear masks, and don’t crowd!”

“Even though the government allows the public to be active in this ‘new era’ of Balinese life, they must continue to protect themselves and others by following all protocols: keep your distance, wear masks, and don’t crowd!”

Bendesa Agung MDA Bali Province, Ida Panglingsir Agung Putra Sukahet,

Putra Sukahet continued, underling that if the community does not comply with the daily protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19, then the government will have wasted multiple efforts on several fronts. “If everyone does not obey the protocols, Covid-19 will expand, it will hurt us all. Tourism will continue to die; the economy is sluggish. We will all suffer losses,” he said.

Sukahet enthusiastically supported the use of hotels to isolate Covid-19 patients, following an example set by Jakarta that used dormitories built for athletes. Pointing out that there is an abundance of empty hotels in Bali at this time, he announced: “We (MDA), together with Committee III DPD RI in charge of health, are ready to facilitate this idea. We will convey DPD RI’s advice to the Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster.”

The rate of COVID-19 infections has surged over the last week of August and the first week of September 2020. In the ten days since 31 August 2020, new cases discovered each day have exceeded 128. Data from the Provincial COVID-19 Task Force counted 1.997 new patients over the past 14 days.

The Covid-19 pandemic has increasingly raged in Bali over the past two weeks. In fact, in the last ten days since 31 August 2020, new cases per day were always over 128 new infections. Based on data from the Bali Province Covid-19 Handling Acceleration Task Force (GTPP), in the last 14 days, 1,997 new cases appeared, while the cumulative number of patients who have recovered reached 1,227 people.

Meanwhile, leaders of political parties in Bali are growing concerned that 2020 Political Campaigns for regional leaders (Pilkada) and the resulting rallies will create dangerous new clusters of infection unless campaigns conform to strict health protocols.

Related Links

Virologist Calls for Bali Lockdown

Editorial: COVID-19 Damned if we Do and Damned if We Don’t