Overwhelmed Indonesian coffin maker issues COVID-19 warning

Overwhelmed Indonesian coffin maker issues COVID-19 warning

EMPTY COFFINS. Workers wearing protective masks load empty coffins for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victims into a pickup truck to be distributed to a hospital as the cases surge in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 5, 2021.

REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

'We are quite worried because we realize many people have died,' says coffin maker Olaskar Purba

At a workshop located in a Jakarta cemetery, coffin maker Olaskar Purba and his team are hard at work.

They staple together boxes made of plywood and paint them brown. The coffins are then fitted with a lining and covered in plastic before being taken away for use.

“Before the (coronavirus) cases spiked, we usually made only up to 10 coffins in one day,” said the 62-year-old, looking weary. “But now it has reached 30 orders per day, and it’s double the work.”

Indonesia is battling one of Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, fuelled by the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant first identified in India.

Authorities on Monday reported 558 new deaths, a second day of record fatalities, and 29,745 new infections, the 10th day of record high cases in the past 15 days.

Tougher mobility restrictions have been imposed in Java and on the island of Bali, the worst-affected regions, and the government on Monday introduced new measures in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19 in 20 other provinces effective Tuesday.

Hospital bed occupancy was at 75% nationwide as of July 2, the health ministry said, but some hospitals on the most populous island of Java have reported over 90% capacity, including in the capital Jakarta.

“The material we use is also getting harder to find, as the price of plywood has risen as well,” said Olaskar, explaining he has been overwhelmed with the endless orders for coffins.

“We are quite worried because we realize many people have died,” added Olaskar. “To all the people out there, please obey the government’s rules, wear your masks and observe social distancing.” –

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