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Jakarta Post

‘Pocong’ out to keep residents in

‘Pocong’ out to keep residents in Two youngsters in Kepuh village in Sukoharjo, Central Java, stand guard dressed as pocong (shrouded corpses) at the entrance to their village to keep residents in as part of restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy of/Kesongo Hamlet)
Ganug Nugroho Adi and Markus Makur
Central Java and East Nusa Tenggara   ●   Thu, April 2, 2020 2020-04-02 16:40 399 7f440ff09e92db75a02bbad206f444bc 1 National coronavirus,COVID-19,movement,restriction,stay-at-home,pocong,urban-legends Free

As regions nationwide have enforced restrictions on people’s movement in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, some local authorities are resorting to unorthodox methods in imposing the virus control measures.

Young people from Kesongo hamlet of Kepuh village in Central Java’s Sukoharjo regency, for example, stayed at the entrance gate to the hamlet dressed up as pocong (shroud ghosts of Indonesian legend).

"The pocong is not to scare residents; instead, we want to educate residents on the fact that coronavirus causes death. It is a shock therapy, as people usually [pay more attention] to anything related to death," Anjar Panca, the keeper of Kesongo’s Al Himmah mosque, said on Wednesday.

The pocong guards monitor guests coming into the hamlet and make sure residents obey the government's restrictions on social gatherings.

"During the past three days, no residents were seen going out at night. Apparently, they're scared of the fake ghost," Anjar claimed.

The head of Kesongo hamlet’s neighborhood unit, Karno Supadmo, said the pocong guards had been deployed on the initiative of residents, and they were positive about the measure, as it aimed to prevent a greater virus outbreak in the area.

As of Thursday, Central Java has confirmed 104 cases of COVID-19, seven of which have ended deadly. Nationwide, COVID-19 has infected 1,790 and killed 170 people.

According to Karno, the pocong stood by the entrance gate from 8 p.m. to midnight every day. They would do an ID check on every guest coming into the hamlet and ask about the purpose of their visit.

Read also: Regions start enforcing curfews to flatten Indonesia's COVID-19 curve

In Galang village, Welak district of West Manggarai regency in East Nusa Tenggara, local officials were using myth and local folklore to prevent people from going out at night.

"One way to keep them from going out during the COVID-19 pandemic is resorting to kating (scaring people) with myth or local folklore. Our ancestors used to do it to scare children to prevent them from going out at night," village head Marianus Samsung told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"If the government's calls [for physical distancing] are ignored, we will use kating," he said.

He added that he himself and local officials were scared to go out, even to visit other kampungs on duty, because of COVID-19.

In Mojokerto regency of East Java, traffic police officers wore helmets resembling supersized virus cells while disinfecting vehicles and informing local residents on the preventive measures against COVID-19 at the Kenanten junction.

"Stay alert, but don't panic. Keep a distance and stay out of crowds," were some of the messages delivered to the residents according to the deputy head of Mojokerto Police, Comr. David, as reported by Kompas on Tuesday.

"We made the coronavirus helmets this afternoon so that people would become more aware of the danger the virus poses," he said. (trn)