We are infected, but for the moment (much) less than elsewhere a priori.
So we can already rule out the causes of good management of the epidemic.
. We had a partial and very late lockdown.
When Wuhan leaves in lockdown in January, we have 3 flights a week direct from Wuhan-Denpasar (Bali), and many more between Wuhan and other Indonesian cities. As far as we have to admit it, the probability that there will be no cases in the archipelago as soon as January is more than limited. But at the time, no tests. So no tests, no sick people.
Moreover, a young Dutchman in his twenties, travelling to Sumatra in January after a stopover in Chinatown, Singapore, found himself in hospital in a deplorable state. He is diagnosed as having pneumonia. At the time no one suspected that he could have corona, which is only in China. A month ago, they retested the samples from this young man to find out that he finally tested positive for COVID 19. Well, by then he had returned to the Netherlands in good health, but there was no doubt that the virus had been in Indonesia all along.
During February, it started to get hot. Tourism is collapsing, nobody wants to leave his country for fear of getting stuck… I have to go to Singapore at the end of February to get a new visa, it’s a total panic, the Chinese are already forbidden to enter Indonesia, in addition to Iranians, Italians and some Koreans. Clearly I was afraid of not being able to return to Indonesia, the countries were closing one by one, I took some extra shirt and calbutes even if I was in the city state for only 3 days!
At that time, Singapore diagnosed a hundred cases, Indonesia 0!
We’re entitled to all sorts of theories from our ministers who would make our national Sibeth look like an almost passable communicator. On the menu: Indonesians are not affected because they pray very hard (minister of health), the Indonesian climate protects us (same guy) and it was the same kind of nuggets for a while… The best part: the central government releases funds to pay influencers to boost tourism in Bali, even if it means boosting domestic tourism if the borders close by sending us people from Jakarta via discount flights. Total delirium.
Naturally, Bali is still empty. Everybody’s leaving, tourism is in agony. Even the old expats are starting to leave. At that moment it becomes stressful: everyone is predicting a cataclysm. If a system like Italy is in trouble, we’ll pile up corpses in the street… Clearly we’re not ready.
The first people with VIDOC run away from hospitals for fear of the shame of carrying the virus and the media pressure. At this moment we still have an extremely low level of cases, but the rich Indonesians who are sick get tested positive in all the countries around where they fly to get better care (Singapore, Malaysia, Australia etc…)! Everybody knows that the government is lying, it’s getting hot, so they change their strategy, I would say around the middle of March. They finally forbid large religious gatherings (the main sources of contamination here), invite companies to close down, to telework etc…
From that moment on, the tests arrive, the lockdown begins, and the real measurements with it.
So it took about two months after the first cases appeared. The economy wasn’t salvageable anyway as the whole world was closing down, and even the religious skeptics at first were now in favor of stopping the regroupings. But clearly everything was done backwards with extreme slowness.
Obviously the constraints of a country like Indonesia are not the same as those of a country like France. Forbidding people to go out without anything else, when a certain number depend on daily wages, is condemning them to starvation. Similarly, cancelling the
(the return to the village for Aid El Fitr) is a rather tense and politically dangerous decision. But such huge mass movements are just unmanageable.
This is the historical summary of the beginning of the virus. So I might as well tell you that if the virus had been as virulent as elsewhere, we would have all died by now.
As I write this, it’s the beginning of May, and not much has happened in Indonesia. We’ve had a few outbreaks, a few deaths, but nothing crazy in a country this size. A large part of the dead are doctors who were treating under-equipped patients and who were probably not young anymore…
In fact, we have even more problems with dengue fever this year than with Corona: many more deaths, especially in the eastern part of the archipelago. And dengue kills mostly children…
There is no doubt that not all cases are reported or tested properly in remote areas and also to a lesser extent in less remote areas.
My leads for Bali if some people want to investigate (I don’t know about the rest of the archipelago):
Bali is relatively remote. Few buildings and large buildings likely to share the miasmas by air conditioning or common ventilation, balconies, elevators etc..
The virus would be sensitive to UV. And UV, we don’t give a damn about UV. According to several studies, it would be “dead” after 20 minutes of exposure. So it would limit the contamination outside. And most people spend time outdoors on a daily basis. Even a scooter ride through the pollution would be a powerful disinfectant if the virus dies in a jackpot!
As the tourism-based and undiversified economy was decimated in advance, everyone stayed at home for the time being. You don’t go to a restaurant or a mall when you’ve just been fired and you’re out of money…
Smoking is very high among men (60% of men, very few women). And smokers are under-represented in some Chinese studies (where there are also many smokers) and in the USA. There are reportedly more women affected and hospitalized in Indonesia, but I don’t know if this is a verifiable source or a rumor.
Wearing a mask has been mandatory for a while now + disinfectant everywhere.
Instead of hiding the lack of masks like La France by saying it was useless, here the decision was quite different. To prevent people from rushing too much for surgical masks and to avoid them being reserved for hospitals, the government invited people to make their own masks either in cloth or paper with homemade filters. No one has been going out without a mask for a while now. There has not been a sterile debate like in France about standards, who should pay, how they should be made, how they should be worn and so on.
The companies that could produce them, others made them themselves, some were given away for free, others were sold… in short, it just happened. Within a week or two everyone had masks. Doctors recommended washing them, or drying them in the sun, and changing the house filters.
So, yes, many of these masks are not FFP289000 but the people wearing them are not supposed to go and treat patients who cough on them either. The goal is to avoid coughing or sputtering on others, which is better than nothing, and infinitely better than saying it’s useless because the average French person is too stupid to wear it well (and therefore it’s better to do nothing). Do the test yourself: spit on someone without a mask, then do the same thing with a cloth mask in which you’ve put a filter like a sheet of paper. No, don’t do that.
Did the masks stop the spread? Maybe they did.
In any case it’s true that our case is strange, especially for a small ultra-tourist place like Bali which instinctively should have been decimated like any other metropolis. I hope I’m not speaking too quickly.
On the other hand, the economic and social crisis is very present. And it is violent. There is a queue in front of the banks every day…