Indonesia has found a creative way to raise coronavirus awareness – through a giant tree!
A Catholic church in Surabaya, Indonesia decorated a Christmas tree with protective masks and hand sanitizers as a way to encourage every Indonesian to protect themselves and help curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The move comes as Indonesia’s daily death toll hit a record high on Sunday.
“The tree was made with the intention of making people more aware of the importance of maintaining health protocols,” Markus Marcelinus Hardo Iswanto of the parish of The Catholic Church of Christ the King in Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya told Reuters.
Both the church’s followers and the local Muslim community in the area helped decorate the tree – which largely symbolizes Christmas – with hundreds of colorful face mask and hand sanitizers. It took a whole week to complete the three-meter tree.
Despite Indonesia being the world’s largest Muslim population, Christmas is considered a public holiday. It is celebrated by around 10 percent of its 270 million people.
Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases in all of Southeast Asia, followed by the Philippines.
The Indonesia government has repeatedly urged the public to avoid large gatherings, and has warned about the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations.
On Sunday, the country reported a record daily death toll of 221, bringing the total number of deaths so far to 19,880. Indonesia currently has 658,000 coronavirus infections, though majority of these have already recovered.
With the daily increase in coronavirus infections, Indonesia has postponed the opening of Bali, one of its most famous islands and the center of its tourism industry.
Bali – a tropical paradise of turquoise seas, white sands, picturesque rock formations and cliffs and sacred temples – was first planned to allow foreign travelers in September. But the plan was derailed after cases started to rise again.
Several hotels and resorts in the island were also asked to temporarily halt operations to prevent the further spread of the virus. Some have permanently shut down because of the absence of customers.
Recent updates from the Bali local government suggest that the island may remove travel ban soon. No specific date has been revealed yet.
Those coming into Bali must have a PCR test taken no longer than 72 hours before their departure.