Syrian yogi ‘bent health rules,’ Bali officials say

Women wearing protective face masks pass an advertisement promoting awareness of the coronavirus outbreak at a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, July 1, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 02 July 2020

Syrian yogi ‘bent health rules,’ Bali officials say

  • Yoga teacher facing deportation after ignoring virus restrictions

JAKARTA: A Syrian yoga teacher is facing deportation from Bali after photos of him hosting a yoga session involving dozens of foreigners surfaced online.

Locals voiced anger over the violation of social distancing rules on the Indonesian resort island.

Wissam Barakeh, founder of the House of Om Community Center, a yoga retreat in the Balinese cultural hub of Ubud, held the event on June 18. On Wednesday, immigration authorities in Bali said he faces immediate deportation.

“He is now being detained at Denpasar immigration office and will be deported on the first available international flight,” Arvin Gumilang, a spokesman for the immigration office at the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, told Arab News.

Gumilang said Barakeh ignored a health ministry ruling on large-scale social restrictions and a local Bali decree limiting the number of participants in an event to 25.

The yoga retreat is believed to have hosted more than 60 people, including many foreigners.

“He was well aware that the number of participants had exceeded the maximum number of participants allowed in the regulations, but he did not make any effort to cancel the event,” Gumilang said.

“The event violated health protocols by not complying with physical distancing rules, and those at the event were not wearing face masks,” he added.

The number of COVID-19 infections in Bali continues to rise daily. However, the number of cases on the island as of July 1 remained at 2.5 percent, or 1,527 of the national total of 57,770.

Photos of the event, which were deleted from the retreat’s Instagram account, were circulated online following Twitter posts by a Bali-based women’s rights activist, Jenny Jusuf.

The immigration office acknowledged that the event came to its attention following social media posts and complaints from locals, who have followed health regulations and refrained from conducting religious ceremonies that form a central part of Balinese life.

“I am sorry for what happened on June 18, it was not our intention, but what happened has happened, it is already a mistake,” Barakeh was quoted as saying by Kompas TV last week, after visiting Gianyar Regent I Made Mahayastra to apologize for holding the event.

The yoga teacher founded the center in June 2016. Its website describes it as a place “believing in the concept of community and going back to the tribe, to live in a world without borders, beyond race, color, religion or gender.”

Barakeh has created “conscious community centers” in Syria, the UAE and Bali, according to the website.


Vietnam in ‘decisive’ fight to contain coronavirus

Updated 1 min 56 sec ago

Vietnam in ‘decisive’ fight to contain coronavirus

  • Vietnam, widely praised for its mitigation efforts, is battling several new clusters of infection
  • Source of the new outbreak is unclear but it has spread to at least 10 places
HANOI: Vietnam is in the midst of a “decisive” fight against the novel coronavirus, the prime minister said on Monday, with the focus on Danang city where infections have appeared in four factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700 people.
Vietnam, widely praised for its mitigation efforts since the coronavirus appeared in late January, is battling several new clusters of infection linked to Danang after going more than three months without detecting any domestic transmission.
“We have to deploy full force to curb all known epicenters, especially those in Danang,” the official broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc telling government officials.
“Early August will be the decisive time within which to stop the virus from spreading on a large scale.”
The country of 96 million has confirmed at least 621 infections, with six deaths.
Authorities on Monday reported one new case linked to the central city of Danang, a tourism hot spot where Vietnam’s first domestically transmitted case in 100 days was detected on July 24.
The source of the new outbreak is unclear but it has spread to at least 10 places, including the capital, Hanoi, and the business hub of Ho Chi Minh City, infecting 174 people and killing six.
Four cases were found at factories in different industrial parks in Danang, which collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said.
The government said on Saturday it planned to test Danang’s entire population of 1.1 million people, part of “unprecedented measures” to fight the outbreak. The city imposed a lockdown last week, banning movement in and out of the city and closing entertainment venues.
Buon Ma Thuot, a city in Vietnam’s coffee-growing Central Highlands region, was placed under lockdown on Monday, state media reported.
Twenty-three percent of the latest infections are asymptomatic, the government said in a statement, meaning people infected with the virus do not show symptoms of the COVID-19 sickness it causes.
Phuc said the new outbreak could have a more “critical impact” than previous waves of infection.
Authorities said on Sunday the strain of virus detected in Danang was a more contagious one, and that each infected person could infect 5 to 6 people, compared with 1.8-2.2 for infections earlier in the year.
Vietnam has carried out 52,000 tests for the coronavirus in the past seven days, according to a Reuters analysis of official data. Health ministry data does not include rapid tests used for mass screening.