Indonesia Is Placing Coffins in the Streets to Scare People Into Taking COVID Seriously

Indonesia has the highest coronavirus death rate in Southeast Asia.
indonesia coffin
An elderly man stands next to a coffin installation in Jakarta, Indonesia, on August 19, 2020. Photo: ADEK BERRY / AFP

The sight of a coffin laying out in the middle of a crowded city is likely to shock most people—which is exactly the reaction that authorities in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta hoped to elicit with their latest stunt.

According to Reuters, Indonesian authorities recently placed an empty coffin that bore the words “COVID-19 victim” in red letters in the middle of a busy intersection in Jakarta.

A mannequin dressed in personal protective gear—including gloves, a surgical mask, and a face shield—was placed nearby. A board under the coffin displayed the latest number of coronavirus infections and the death toll in the district.


Even as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to rise, people in the city still ignore health and safety protocols put in place to stop the pandemic spread, a local official said.

“Setting up the coffin helps people to stay alert of the situation so that they can change their behavior,” Djaharuddin, chief of Jakarta's Mampang Prapatan subdistrict, told Reuters.

Indonesia has the highest coronavirus death rate in Southeast Asia. As of Thursday, August 20, the country has reported over 144,000 infections and more than 6,300 deaths.

On July 22, the country recorded its highest daily death toll of 139 fatalities.

The Philippines has also employed the use of the scare tactic to remind the people to adhere to strict quarantine measures.

In March, authorities in Santo Tomas, located north of the Philippine of capital Manila, placed a coffin in the middle of the road with a sign that read “Stay at Home or Stay Inside.”

In April, a village in Central Java, Indonesia, deployed an army of “ghosts” to roam the streets and to discourage people from leaving their homes during the pandemic.

“We wanted to be different and create a deterrent effect because [ghosts] are spooky and scary,” Anjar Pancaningtyas, the head of a local youth group involved in the stunt, told Reuters in April.