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Indonesian gravediggers under strain as COVID-19 burials surge in Jakarta


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Indonesian gravediggers under strain as COVID-19 burials surge in Jakarta

By Heru Asprihanto and Stanley Widianto

 

2020-09-21T074957Z_1_LYNXNPEG8K0H9_RTROPTP_4_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-INDONESIA-GRAVEDIGGER.JPG

Workers wearing protective suits bury a coffin at the Muslim burial area provided by the government for victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Pondok Ranggon cemetery complex in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

 

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Gravedigger Junaedi Bin Hakim toils until nearly midnight almost every day in a Jakarta cemetery, preparing plots for fellow Indonesians amid a renewed spike in coronavirus burials.

 

"I am worried and scared but this is part of my job and responsibilities," said 43-year-old Junaedi, who prior to the global pandemic routinely left work at 4 p.m. to spend time with his young family.

 

Jakarta has been the epicentre of the outbreak in Indonesia, where authorities have struggled for months to contain the virus. The country has reported nearly 245,000 cases, including 9,553 deaths, the highest levels in southeast Asia.

 

Unlike many other Asian capitals, Jakarta authorities did not impose a strict lockdown, opting for more calibrated social restrictions, an approach that some health experts have said was too lax.

 

After an initial surge at the start of the pandemic, burials in Jakarta dropped to around 20 to 30 on average per day in July and August. But they shot up in September to between 50 and more than 60 per day, data from the city government showed.

 

As ambulances carrying victims snaked around the entrance of Pandok Ranggoon cemetery, Junaedi said it could be full within two months at the current rate of burials.

 

"Usually, we bury around 10 people everyday. But for the last few days, when we handle COVID-19 burials, it has reached an average of 30 per day," he said.

 

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said more land had been earmarked in case that happens.

 

The number of deaths across Indonesia has averaged 114 per day over the past week, up from 64 a month ago, according to a Reuters tally based on official data.

 

Baswedan said in an interview last week that while not all burials were definitely COVID-19 patients, "I don't see any other disease going on in our city".

 

Baswedan said the rise in funerals, along with strain on the city's healthcare system, were the reasons why he reinstated social restrictions in Jakarta last week, which prohibit working from offices except for essential businesses, as well as limit the capacity of public transport and places of worship.

 

"We had never experienced this kind of jump," Baswedan said. "That's why ... we decided to pull a brake."

 

For Junaedi's wife, Karlina, her husband's work is a source of fear for her small children, despite the health protocols being followed for burials.

 

"I still have two children at home so definitely I'm scared and worried," she said.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-09-21
 
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They'll be getting some help. People caught not wearing masks are being made to spend a couple of days digging graves as punishment. 

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don't you love thailand putting spotlight on other countries "death" so they look better while not testing

 

maybe they should state :    somchai is depressed and tired for making 50 new holes a day for the people that die on the thai roads EVERY SINGLE DAY

Edited by Bender Rodriguez
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Look at Indonesia and Philippines and somehow thailamd with all those Chinese in first quarter have close to none.   I still don't believe it. 

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4 hours ago, Bender Rodriguez said:

somchai is depressed and tired for making 50 new holes a day for the people that die on the thai roads EVERY SINGLE DAY

Normally people are cremated in Thailand..that's why Somchai hasn't had to dig so many holes. 😋

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18 hours ago, Stocky said:

They'll be getting some help. People caught not wearing masks are being made to spend a couple of days digging graves as punishment. 

Maybe the government should invest in a few of these.

P_20200914_132732.thumb.jpg.0c645f219dfd4ff265cce1c0f8f9906b.jpg

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3 hours ago, Elkski said:

Look at Indonesia and Philippines and somehow thailamd with all those Chinese in first quarter have close to none.   I still don't believe it. 

One explanation - Buddhists generally do not congregate to pray in an enclosed area once every week, whereas the Muslims in Indonesia and the Catholics in the Philippines do. Some Muslims may even congregate everyday to pray in suraus (small mosques) because of their obligation to pray 5 times a day.

Look at South Korea and its many church clusters.

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16 minutes ago, Selatan said:

whereas the Muslims

Hence the early spike in cases in southern Thailand, nearly all connected to Muslim communities. The mosques closed down in Thailand during lockdown, in Indonesia they've remained open.  

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8 hours ago, Bender Rodriguez said:

while not testing

You think Indonesia is doing better with testing!!

 

Indonesia's health minister claimed there were no cases in Indonesia because of the power of prayer. They only owned up when the funeral processions were causing traffic jams.

 

There is little in the way of track and trace, lockdowns never really happened. Airports remain largely open and there is no requirement to undergo 14 day quarantine, just need to have a negative test 72hrs before the flight.

 

There is no comparison with Thailand.

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13 hours ago, Bender Rodriguez said:

don't you love thailand putting spotlight on other countries "death" so they look better while not testing

 

maybe they should state :    somchai is depressed and tired for making 50 new holes a day for the people that die on the thai roads EVERY SINGLE DAY

Don’t you just love TV posters using a serious news story about another country to Thai Bash. 

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