Indonesia (AP) – Residents have not taken well to the imposed coronavirus lockdown, so this Indonesian village has taken an unorthodox approach to ensuring its residents obey the rules.
Kepuh village, on Java Island, has started dressing volunteers as ghosts to scare them into social distancing submission.
Ghoulish figures known as “pocong” are common in Indonesian folklore, representing the trapped souls of the dead.
“We wanted to be different and create a deterrent effect because ‘pocong’ are spooky and scary,” said Anjar Pancaningtyas, head of a village youth group, who helped establish the unconventional method.
The participants wrap themselves in white shrouds, powder their faces and patrol the area in search of villagers flouting the restrictions.
Indonesia has so far registered around 4,500 cases of Covid-19 and 400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
However, researchers at the University of Indonesia estimate there could be 140,000 deaths and 1.5 million cases by May without tougher curbs on movement.
The country’s president Joko Widodo has resisted a national lockdown to curb the pandemic, instead urging people to practise social distancing and good hygiene.
But some Indonesian communities, including Kepuh, have decided to take measures into their own hands, imposing the ghostly patrols, lockdowns and restricting movement in and out of their village.
“Residents still lack awareness about how to curb the spread of COVID-19 disease,” the head of the village said.
“They want to live like normal so it is very difficult for them to follow the instruction to stay at home.”
Fortunately, the supernatural approach appears to be working, according to Reuters news agency, which sent reporters to investigate.
“Since the pocong appeared, parents and children have not left their homes,” resident Karno Supadmo said.
“And people will not gather or stay on the streets after evening prayers.”