Bali's miracle: Turning wine into hand sanitizer

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 08 2020 09:28 PM

Indonesian soldiers spray disinfectant on a statue to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Tanah Lot temple in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia, March 20, 2020. Johannes P. Christo, Reuters

BALI - Pharmacists on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali are tackling a shortage of anti-coronavirus hand sanitizer by making their own unique, tropical version -- from thousands of liters of fermented palm wine. 

The idea was the brainchild of Bali police chief Petrus Reinhard Golose, who says he was alarmed that supplies of alcohol-based disinfectant were in short supply while prices soared for what was left on the market.

He rustled up some 4,000 liters of the popular, potent beverage -- known as arak -- by asking local manufacturers to donate from their stocks, with the force also dipping into its own funds to buy up extra supplies. 

Staff at Bali's Udayana University were then tasked with turning the wine into a handwash that could protect against the coronavirus. 

Within a week, they had managed to produce a disinfectant with a 96 percent alcohol content to meet WHO standards, according to the university.

Some clove and mint oil were added to the mixture to reduce hand irritation.

"So far we've produced 10,600 bottles of hand sanitizer using arak and Bali police have given them out to people in need," Dewa Ayu Swastini, head of the university's pharmaceutical faculty, told AFP on Wednesday.

Bali has reported 49 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 2 deaths.