After his work as a taxi driver, he was overwhelmed by Indonesia’s new coronavirus restrictions, Ardi Novriansyah offered his driving skills to help the country’s medical system.
Ardi, 41, is one of about 35 volunteers in Bogor, south of Jakarta, who are recovering the bodies of people who died from COVID-19 while isolating themselves at home.
Capturing as much sleep as he can on a bed at the group’s headquarters in an unused building, Ardi received calls 24 hours a day last month.
Ardi says his interest in humanity has led him to take on such a difficult job sharing camaraderie with his fellow volunteers.
“What’s important is that we have a desire to help as volunteers, for humanity,” he said.
The sight of bodies is something that has adapted during an old job as an ambulance driver.
Indonesia is struggling to cope with a devastating wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, which has left hospitals in full swing and meant that many infected people who cannot get a hospital bed die only at home.
Indonesia, which is the fourth most populous country in the world with more than 270 million people, saw this week’s infections hit a record high every day approaching 57,000, seven times more than a month ago, and the death toll has doubled since the beginning of July to about 1,000 per day.
Lapor COVID-19, a national group that collects pandemic data from the community, said that since June 625 people, mostly in Java, have died of COVID-19 outside of hospitals, most of them in self-isolation.
Rino Indira, the coordinator of volunteer funerals in Bogor, said a 24-hour telephone line has been set up and that the team is helping to plug a hole in the city’s health system.
“This is an emergency situation in Bogor,” said Rino, who is also part of the local government’s COVID-19 work team, adding that his team picks up about seven to nine bodies a day.