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Eight people in Indonesia who refused to wear masks in public were ordered by a local official to dig graves for COVID-19 victims.

As Indonesia faces an uptick of COVID-19 cases, leaders in Cerme, a district in East Java, established stricter enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing policies.

For the eight people who violated the local mask mandate, it meant digging graves. The district leader, identified by Indonesian news site Tribun News as Suyono, proposed the punishment for the lack of grave diggers in the area.

“There are only three gravediggers available at the moment, so I thought I might as well get these people to work with them,” he told Tribun News. “Hopefully this can create a deterrent effect against violations,” he said.

Two people are assigned to each grave – one to dig the grave and another to insert wooden boards into the holes to support the corpses. Cremation and embalming are not allowed in Indonesia, and corpses are traditionally buried without a coffin.

The non-mask wearers were not allowed to attend any traditional ceremonies, the Jakarta Post reported. Per SBS News in Australia, they were also banned from touching the bodies. Instead, local officials wearing protective gear were to bury the bodies.

Indonesia has the highest current number of coronavirus deaths in Southeast Asia with nearly 8,900 deaths per year. Tuesday pr. Johns Hopkins University. The country has been demanding that people wear masks since April.

Contribution: Associated Press.

Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote.

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