Bali, Indonesia, Tells Local Children to ‘Stay Home’ While Promoting Global Tourism

KUTA, INDONESIA - MARCH 21: The lifeguards are seen watching over the quiet beach at Kuta Beach on March 21, 2020 in Kuta, Indonesia. Indonesia currently has 450 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 38 deaths. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The Indonesian Pediatric Society in Bali on Wednesday urged parents on the island to limit their children’s outdoor activities citing an alleged risk to their health from the Chinese coronavirus, the Indonesian news site Coconuts Bali reported Thursday.

“Children should stay home. Even if they must be taken outside it must be with strict health protocols, avoid the crowds and use masks for children above two years old,” I Gusti Lanang Sidiartha, the director of the Indonesian Pediatric Society in Bali, told reporters on June 23.

The Indonesian Pediatric Society’s statement runs counter to an international consensus by health experts that the Chinese coronavirus poses a low risk to the health of young children.

“While all children are capable of getting the virus that causes COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus], they don’t become sick as often as adults. Most children have mild symptoms or no symptoms,” the Mayo Clinic wrote in a statement published by its official website on May 14.

“According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, in the U.S. children represent about 13 percent of all COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] cases,” the U.S.-based medical research center reported. “Research suggests that children younger than ages 10 to 14 are less likely to become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] compared to people age 20 and older.”

The Indonesian Pediatric Society’s advisory discouraging children in Bali from engaging in outdoor recreational activities due to the Chinese coronavirus came one day after Indonesia’s tourism ministry announced a new program designed to encourage foreign travelers to visit Bali.

Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister, Sandiaga Uno, told reporters at a press briefing on June 22 that his ministry was preparing to offer Chinese coronavirus vaccines to both domestic and international tourists upon arrival in Bali.

“We want to push for more vaccination distributed at a massive scale. For that reason, we present a vaccine-based travel program. Bali has been chosen, because Bali is in dire need of tourists due to the deep economic contraction,” Sandiaga said, referring to the losses suffered by Bali’s economic and tourism sectors due to restricted global travel during the ongoing Chinese coronavirus pandemic. Bali was traditionally Indonesia’s most lucrative island in terms of tourism prior to the pandemic.

“[T]his particular vaccination drive will prioritize domestic tourists, though officials will also work on potentially offering vaccines to foreign tourists through independent schemes,” Coconuts Bali reported on June 23.

Sandiaga said on June 22 that Indonesia’s tourism ministry would pilot the vaccine tourism project on Bali first with the aim of later expanding the travel incentive to other regions.

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