Coronavirus: Indonesian village uses ‘ghosts’ for distancing patrols

A village in Indonesia has reportedly taken to using volunteers dressed as ghosts to try to scare people into social distancing over the coronavirus.

Kepuh village, on Java Island, reportedly started deploying the patrols at night last month.

In Indonesian folklore ghostly figures, known as pocong, are said to represent the trapped souls of the dead.

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

But there are fears, according to experts, that the true scale of the infection across the country is much worse.

According to Reuters news agency staff who travelled to see the pocong in action, the unusual tactic at first had the opposite effect to that intended – with people coming out to try to spot the volunteers.

But locals now say, with the pocong deployed unexpectedly, the method appears to be working to frighten people from the streets.

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

Anjar Panca, keeper at a local mosque, told the Jakarta Post the initiative worked because it reminded residents of the potential deadly effects of the disease.

The initiative was organised by the head of the village's youth group in co-ordination with local police.

"We wanted to be different and create a deterrent effect because pocong are spooky and scary," Anjar Pancaningtyas, head of the youth group, told Reuters.

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