BALI, INDONESIA, September 23, 2020 (ABC News): Bebalang village is best known to tourists as a stop on Bali's Eat, Pray, Love tour for fans of Elizabeth Gilbert's famous memoir. But now this small village at Bangli, north-east of Ubud, is the final destination for scores of victims dying from suspected Covid-19. It is a grim turn of events for an island that appeared to have coronavirus under control -- even as it raged in other parts of the archipelago. Bali now has one of the fastest-rising death rates from coronavirus in Indonesia, since the provincial government reopened the island to domestic tourism. Deaths from Covid-19 in Bali have risen five-fold since July 31 and infection rates have more than doubled. Eight of Bali's nine regencies are now classified as high-risk "red zones."
The lack of testing for coronavirus makes it impossible to know the true rate of infection, according to local epidemiologist Dr I Gusti Ngurah Kade Mahardika. Up to 4,000 tourists have arrived in Bali every day since July 31, which has fueled the spread of the virus, according to Dr Mahardika. "Bali's reopening has caused a public euphoria for local residents. They think Bali is open now so they're free to do anything and they flock to tourist destinations," he said. "All the indicators at the time showed the reopening of tourism in Bali should not have been allowed. But they did." Most tourists arriving in Bali are from neighboring Java, where coronavirus infection rates and deaths are Indonesia's highest.