Indonesia church decorates Christmas tree with masks, sanitisers to promote Covid-19 awareness

Men decorate a Christmas tree with masks and hand sanitisers at a church in Surabaya, on Dec 16, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - A Catholic church in Indonesia has decorated a Christmas tree with protective masks and hand sanitisers as a way to spread awareness of Covid-19 in the festive season, as the country's daily death toll hit a record high on Sunday (Dec 20).

"The tree was made with the intention of making people more aware of the importance of maintaining health protocols," Mr Markus Marcelinus Hardo Iswanto of the parish of The Catholic Church of Christ the King in Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya told Reuters.

Starting with a bamboo skeleton, the church's followers and the local Muslim community decorated the tree with hundreds of colourful donated masks and hand sanitisers, and took a week to complete the 3m tree, he said.

Christmas is celebrated by only around 10 per cent of Indonesia's 270 million people, but is a public holiday in the country which has the world's largest Muslim population.

The government has urged the public to avoid celebrating Christmas and New Year in public places due to rising Covid-19 cases.

The country reported a record daily death toll of 221 on Sunday (Dec 20), bringing the total number of deaths in the South-east Asian nation so far to 19,880, data from the national Covid-19 task force showed.

Indonesia has South-east Asia's highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases at 664,930 as well as the region's highest related death toll.

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