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Indonesian Town Forces Those With No Masks to Dig Graves for Covid-19 Victims

Officials in one part of Indonesia are not messing around when it comes to face masks.

The Jakarta Post reports that as punishment for not wearing a mask in public, eight residents of Gresik regency in East Java have been ordered to dig graves for people who died from COVID-19. 

"There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them, Suyono, head of the district the graveyard is located in, told local media. "Hopefully this can create a deterrent effect against violations."

From the group of eight, teams of two were created, one to dig a grave, and the other to put wooden boards in the grave to support the corpse that would eventually be buried in it.

According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard, Indonesia is battling the worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia. The country of 268 million has reported 225,030 cases and 8,965 deaths.

Last month, Reuters reported in a longform feature on the country's many struggles to contain the virus, including poor contact tracing, extremely low testing rates and official resistance to lockdowns. Just today, September 16, Indonesia reported the biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases, with 3,963 new infections.

Masks, meanwhile, have become an odd flashpoint in the global response to the pandemic, with countries such as Vietnam, China and South Korea adopting widespread usage with ease, while other nations such as the United States and Germany have seen massive public protests about the fabric face coverings.

[Photo by P. J. Leo via Jakarta Post]