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Jakarta Post

Villagers contract COVID-19 after opening casket in burial rite

  • Asip Hasani

    The Jakarta Post

Surabaya   /   Mon, May 18, 2020   /   11:50 am
Villagers contract COVID-19 after opening casket in burial rite A resident walks through the Sasanalaya Girilayu public cemetery in West Ungaran, Semarang regency, Central Java on April 11. At least 15 people have contracted COVID-19 after they opened the coffin of a resident who had died of the virus to perform a traditional bathing ritual. (Antara/Aji Styawan)

At least 15 people have contracted COVID-19 after they opened the coffin of a resident who had died of the virus to perform a traditional bathing ritual, ignoring health protocols and warnings from local authorities.

"The relatives and neighbors of the deceased opened the plastic wrap on the deceased body and even bathed the body. That is so careless," acting Sidoarjo Regent Nur Ahmad Syaifudin told reporters on Sunday. 

He said a villager who had tested positive for COVID-19 died two weeks ago in a hospital. The deceased body, wrapped in plastic sheeting and placed in a wooden coffin, was sent home at the request of relatives. 

The relatives and neighbors performed a normal funeral procession for the deceased body, without COVID-19 protocols.

Read also: PSBB fails to flatten COVID-19 curve in East Java: Task force

The incident prompted the Sidoarjo COVID-19 task force to conduct contact tracing in the village. The task force confirmed 15 cases of the virus and listed dozens of other people as patients under surveillance (PDP).

Nur said the test results were announced on Saturday, the day Sidoarjo saw 45 new confirmed cases, the highest daily increase it had ever recorded. 

He said Jati village had been partially closed to contain the spread of the virus. 

"We have strictly limited access from and to the village. We have also ordered the mosque there not to conduct mass prayers," he said. 

Sidoarjo, Surabaya city and Gresik regency have extended large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) until May 25.

The satellite regency of Surabaya is the second-hardest-hit region in East Java after Surabaya with 285 cases and 31 fatalities as of Sunday.