June 10, 2020 / 11:44 AM / 2 months ago

Jakarta's motorcycle taxis get backpack shield for virus battle

Motorbike taxi drivers prepare to strap on backpack-style plastic partitions to prevent the spread of coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) as they wait for customers in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 9, 2020. Picture taken June 9, 2020. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Jakarta’s motorcycle taxi drivers have a new weapon in the battle against the coronavirus - a plastic shield they can strap on backpack-style to isolate them from passengers.

Usually the most efficient way to get around the Indonesian capital’s traffic-clogged streets, its thousands of motorcycle taxis have been restricted to transporting goods during the city’s COVID-19 lockdown, eating into many drivers’ incomes.

With the easing of those curbs, they can now carry people again too, with the added reassurance of the see-through plastic partition to protect against the risk of infection.

“When the driver coughs the droplets won’t spread to the back with the wind, (and) when the passenger coughs they (the droplets) will not reach the driver,” said Gusti Afiandi, 40, receiving a shield for his taxi from his ride-hailing company Grab.

“With this tool I feel safe from the spread of coronavirus, because I use motorcycle taxis every day,” agreed customer Andre Saputra.

The loosening of Jakarta’s lockdown coincides with record daily rises in coronavirus infections nationwide this week. Fatalities from the Indonesian epidemic have reached nearly 2,000, the highest toll in Southeast Asia.

($1 = 13,920.0000 rupiah)

Writing by Ed Davies; editing by John Stonestreet

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