In late July, the governor of Bali, Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, eagerly reopened the island to domestic tourists, including those from provinces hard hit by the coronavirus.
Now the governor, I Wayan Koster, is paying the price.
He disclosed this week that more than 20 workers at his official residence had tested positive for the coronavirus, including aides, a waiter, a gardener and a typist.
Mr. Koster said he had tested negative. But his wife, Putri Suastini, said in an Instagram video posted on Saturday that she had tested positive, albeit without showing any symptoms.
Bali, a predominantly Hindu island in a largely Muslim country, has long attracted domestic and foreign tourists with its wide beaches, scenic rice fields, religious ceremonies and an active volcano. It is the engine of Indonesia’s tourism industry.
Mr. Koster, who previously promoted inhaling the steam of a traditional alcoholic beverage as a treatment for Covid-19, said this week that he was “horrified” by the spread of the illness in his household. He urged people to take the virus seriously.
“If anyone says that the coronavirus is a conspiracy, it is not true,” he said on Thursday at an event to launch a website promoting Bali’s traditional markets.
It was unclear why Mr. Koster, 57, had not placed himself in isolation by the time of his announcement. The governor and his spokesman could not be reached by telephone on Saturday and did not respond to messages.
On Friday, workers could be seen spraying disinfectant from a truck and cleaning the grounds of the governor’s mansion.
Mr. Koster said last month that more than 75,000 people on the island were out of work. Many hotel workers have returned to their home villages, where they can help their families grow food. Others, who don’t have access to farmland in Bali, are struggling to feed themselves and rely in part on assistance from aid groups.
Since reopening to domestic travelers at the end of July, Bali’s reported cases have more than doubled to 8,389 and the number of deaths has risen more than fivefold to 245. The central government has said it will not open the island to foreign tourists until at least the end of the year.
Indonesia, with its case numbers rising rapidly, has set a new daily record five out of the last seven days. It reports 266,845 cases and 10,218 deaths, among the highest in East Asia. Independent health experts say the actual numbers are probably much higher.