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Scare tactics: Indonesian town deploys ‘ghosts’ to battle coronavirus

A volunteer dressed as a ghost scares passers-by in the village of Kepuh, Indonesia.
A volunteer dressed as a ghost scares passers-by in the village of Kepuh, Indonesia. © Reuters / France 24

Volunteers in one Indonesian village are helping to encourage people to stay at home and curb the spread of coronavirus by dressing up as ghosts and scaring anyone out on the street at night.

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The phantoms have been patrolling the streets of Kepuh village, Indonesia, since early April in an initiative organised by a local youth group.

They dress as "poncong", which according to local folklore are the souls of the dead trapped in burial shrouds.

“First of all, we want to be different. Secondly, to create a deterrent effect because pocong are spooky and scary, so when they (pocong) show up it's a deterrent,” youth group leader Anjar Pancaningtyas told Reuters.

“Thank God, since we set up the 'pocong roadblock' the environment of the village has become more conducive (to the idea of staying inside)."

The Indonesian government has encouraged social distancing to combat the Covid-19 pandemic but has not implemented a nationwide lockdown, leaving some villages to implement their own measures to keep people at home.

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