May 4, 2020 / 5:55 AM / 23 days ago

Superheroes, from near and far, join Indonesia's coronavirus battle

SUKOHARJO, Indonesia (Reuters) - Volunteers clad as Superman and Spider-Man sprayed disinfectant against the coronavirus on Indonesia’s island of Java, flanking a colleague wearing the winged helmet of local superhero Gatotkaca who shouted, “Wear masks, wash hands and stay alert.”

FILE PHOTO: A volunteer wearing a Spiderman costume carries a banner with the words "stay home" to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, April 17, 2020, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Arnas Padda/ via REUTERS/File Photo

The trio handed out masks, containers of hand sanitiser and bamboo slit drums, while demonstrating how to correctly wash hands, don masks and maintain security following reports of a spate of thefts in the residential area.

The Southeast Asian nation has reported more than 11,000 virus infections and 845 deaths, though a sluggish early response to the pandemic and low rates of testing cause medical experts to worry there could be far more cases. 

“(If the) superheroes support (the measures), the children will definitely obey the orders,” said Widanarko, who coordinated the event aimed at teaching people to protect themselves.

“First, washing their hands. Second, not wandering outside and always wearing a mask,” added Widanarko, who uses one name.

People could use the traditional bamboo slit drums handed out to sound the alarm over robberies or thefts by any criminals who take advantage of measures against the virus, said Widanarko, speaking in the Kampung Larangan neighbourhood.

One resident, Herni Kurniawati, welcomed the effort, saying it would encourage people to change their habits to protect themselves.

“Usually it’s very difficult to ask the children to wear masks because for them it’s a hassle,” added Kurniawati.

In the city of Makassar on the neighbouring island of Sulawesi, another group of superheroes was walking the streets to get out the message.

Braving traffic at a busy intersection, volunteers dressed as Deadpool, Black Panther and another, garbed in the red and bold body armour of Indonesian superhero, Bima-X, held up placards that read “Stay Home” and “Get Well Soon Earth”.

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

Additional reporting by Heru Asprihanto; Writing by Angie Teo and Ed Davies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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