The Indonesian resort island of Bali, which received half a million international tourists a month until visas on arrival were halted on March 20, is now the site of a medical mystery that has beguiled many: There are no visible signs of a widespread coronavirus pandemic here.
Days after new tourists were banned and when much of the world was locking down, tens of thousands of Balinese attended Hindu ceremonies marking the New Year.
Life in the Balinese capital, Denpasar, continues as normal as Al Jazeera witnessed last weekend in the city’s bustling wet markets.
As of Saturday, there were only 235 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the island, including 121 recoveries and four deaths – figures that fly in the face of predictions by contagious disease experts cited in reports by Al Jazeera and other news sources, which warned Bali could emerge as a coronavirus hotspot in Indonesia.
Looking for answers
Bali’s apparent immunity to COVID-19 has generated much discussion on social media, representing a wide gamut of opinion that also reflects the island’s spirituality and mysticism.
Others cite conspiracy theories that claim the pandemic is a hoax invented by overzealous governments and vaccination figureheads like Bill Gates.
Gede Wanasari, head priest of the Indonesia Hinduism Society, told Al Jazeera Bali was spared because of the good karma and prayers of the Balinese people.
He also points to Balinese cuisine, saying it “contains a lot of herbs to increase human immunity” – a theory supported by some studies and nutrition experts on the island.