Indonesian village deploys 'ghosts' to enforce social distancing, Latest World News - The New Paper

Indonesian village deploys 'ghosts' to enforce social distancing

This article is more than 12 months old

KEPUH, INDONESIA: The coronavirus outbreak in Indonesia, which has so far killed almost 400 people and infected nearly 4,650, has taken a bizarre turn.

Kepuh village in Java island has deployed people to pretend to be "ghosts", hoping that superstition will keep the public indoors and safely away from the coronavirus.

"We wanted to be different and create a deterrent effect because 'pocong' are spooky and scary," said Mr Anjar Pancaningtyas, head of a village youth group that coordinated with the police on the unconventional initiative to promote social distancing.

In Indonesian folklore, "pocong" represents the trapped souls of the dead.

"Residents still lack awareness on how to curb the spread of the Covid-19 disease," said village head Priyadi. "They want to live like normal so it is very difficult for them to follow the instruction to stay at home."

In a separate development, President Joko Widodo rejected criticism that he favoured economic considerations over public health, saying the government had been focused on the coronavirus since January.

He said yesterday the government has been tackling the Covid-19 crisis seriously from the beginning and that equal attention should be given to address both the health side and the socio-economic aspect of the problem.

"Coronavirus and economy are highly related. They both are important. If people don't eat, the economy would collapse," Mr Joko said.


In other developments in the region, Malaysian health authorities yesterday reported 134 new coronavirus cases, raising the country's total to 4,817.

The authorities also reported one new death, a participant at a religious gathering that was responsible for more than a third of the total confirmed cases in the country, bringing the total number of fatalities to 77.

Malaysia had the highest number of confirmed cases in the region until yesterday, when the Philippines reported a total of 4,932 cases.

The Philippine Health Ministry yesterday reported 18 deaths and 284 new infections.

The ministry said total deaths have reached 315. - REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES