US scientists seek answers to Bali’s Covid-19 secret

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JAKARTA – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is helping to launch a study of the coronavirus pandemic on the Indonesian resort island of Bali as infections show an appreciable increase and Australian and Balinese authorities put the blinkers on visions of the two countries opening up a tourism corridor.

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The highly-regarded, Atlanta-based institution will help Indonesia’s Health Ministry and local partners to measure the presence of SARS-CoV2 antibodies in an effort to determine the proportion of the population that has had a prior infection.

“This is in contrast to a PCR (or swab) test, that assesses the presence of the virus itself in active, current infections,” CDC’s Jakarta representative, Juliette Morgan, told Asia Times. “Through the survey, Bali will have a better understanding of how much transmission of the virus has occurred.”

“It will give us a more complete picture of what has happened and helps to understand what to expect,” she said. “It should be repeated to monitor the epidemic over time and should be conducted in other cities and locations throughout Indonesia.”

It will be the first scientific initiative to try and answer the question of why the popular tourist destination — originally feared to be a virus Petri dish — has so far had only 895 confirmed infections and six confirmed deaths over the four-month lockdown, along with 553 recoveries.

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