Indonesian village uses ‘ghosts’ for social distancing patrols

Indonesian village uses 'ghosts' for distancing patrols
Two volunteers, Deri Setyawan and Septian Febriyanto, seen in full costume. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: A village in Indonesia took a new step to ensure social distancing over the coronavirus pandemic. The village has reportedly taken to using volunteers dressed as ghosts to try to scare people so that they remain at home.

Last month, Kepuh village, on Java Island, started deploying the ‘ghost’ patrols at night

Ghostly figures known as “pocong” in Indonesian folklore, are said to represent the trapped souls of the dead.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, Indonesia so far has about 4,500 cases and 400 confirmed virus deaths.

But experts fear that the true scale of the infection across the country is much worse.

A Reuters staff went to visit the village how the ghosts patrol works. According to the staff, the unusual tactic initially had the opposite effect to that intended – with people coming out to try to spot the ghosts volunteers.

But locals say matters have improved since the team began deploying unexpectedly.

A resident of the village Karno Supadmo told Reuters: “Since the pocong appeared, parents and children have not left their homes. And people will not gather or stay on the streets after evening prayers.”

A local mosque keeper also told the initiative worked because it reminded residents of the potential deadly effects of the disease.

In co-ordination with local police, the initiative was organised by the head of the village’s youth group.

Anjar Pancaningtyas, head of the youth group, said: “We wanted to be different and create a deterrent effect because pocong are spooky and scary.”

Despite fears that the country’s healthcare system could be overwhelmed without tougher measures, Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has not yet implemented a national lockdown.

The head of Kepuh village told that the residents still lack awareness about how to curb the spread of Covid-19 disease.

“They want to live like normal so it is very difficult for them to follow the instruction to stay at home,” he said.

Although unconventional, this is not the only unusual measure that has been used to try to raise awareness among the public of the disease’s dangers around the world, which costs 120,000 deaths so far.

In India, police have been spotted wearing virus-shaped helmets as a way to highlight the risks.

The confirmed cases are nearly 2 million across the globe.

The virus originated in China late last year but spread all over the world later. In Europe, Italy and Spain are taking the worst hit. And the United States became the global epicenter now, where nearly 22,000 people;e have died.