Indonesian gravediggers feel the heat as Jakarta witnesses a spike in COVID-19 burials
JAKARTA (INDONESIA) – Gravedigger Junaedi Bin Hakim works hard until nearly midnight every day in a Jakarta cemetery, as a spike in coronavirus burials hardly gives him time away from preparing plots for fellow Indonesians.
Junaedi, who is 43-year-old, says, “I am worried and scared but this is part of my job and responsibilities.”
Jakarta has been the hotspot of the outbreak in Indonesia, a country which has reported nearly 245,000 cases, including 9,553 deaths.
Data from the city government showed that during the start of the pandemic, burials in Jakarta dropped to around 20 to 30 on average per day in July and August. However, it went up again in September to between 50 and more than 60 per day.
Junaedi said Pandok Ranggoon cemetery could be full within two months, if the current rate of burials continue.
He said, “Usually, we bury around 10 people everyday. But for the last few days, when we handle COVID-19 burials, it has reached an average of 30 per day.”
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said in an interview last week that while not all burials were definitely COVID-19 patients, “I don’t see any other disease going on in our city.”
Baswedan emphasised about the reinstated social restrictions in Jakarta last week, which prohibit working from offices except for essential businesses, as well as limiting the capacity of public transport and places of worship.
Baswedan said, “We had never experienced this kind of jump. That’s why … we decided to pull a brake.”
For Junaedi’s wife, Karlina, her husband’s work evokes fear, despite the fact that he follows health protocols being for burials.
“I still have two children at home so definitely I’m scared and worried,” she said.