JAKARTA : Jakarta’s burial numbers have reached its highest level in more than a decade as the Covid-19 pandemic took its toll in the capital.
There were 152 burials per day in August, almost double the month’s historical average for the last decade of 82 funerals per day, according to the Jakarta Globe calculation based on the city administration’s data that stretched back to 2010.
Even if the calculation excluded the burials of confirmed and suspected Covid-19 victims, Jakarta still saw 114 new tombstones per day last month.
Jakarta undertakers have buried 32,110 people in the first eight months this year, almost equaling the 33,649 people they buried in the entire 2019, the city administration’s data showed.
The burial numbers gauged the so-called “excess deaths” — or higher-than-average death numbers — that may suggest the extent of the Covid-19 pandemic impact beyond the disease’s direct victims.
As of Wednesday, Jakarta reported a total of 1,347 confirmed deaths from Covid-19. Almost half of the deaths occurred in July and August amid the capital’s repeated attempts to reopen its economy.
The burial numbers, however, painted a different picture. Jakarta has reported 1,183 burials with strict infection prevention procedures in August alone and a total of 5,160 of such burials from March to August. The number of funerals with strict infection prevention procedures peaked in April when Jakarta buried 1,418 Covid-19 suspects and victims.
And Jakarta cemeteries are filling up fast. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Wednesday that the city was preparing an expansion for Tegal Alur public cemetery in West Jakarta to bury up to 6,000 additional Covid-19 victims.
“There are still about two hectares of space still unoccupied in Tegal Alur,” Anies said, adding that one hectare can accommodate about 3,000 graves.
The cemetery is one of two burial parks designated for the pandemic victims. The other one, Pondok Ranggon public cemetery in East Jakarta, has a capacity for burying 1,100 people, but Anies said that the Covid-19 victims could fill up the graveyard by October.
“These locations have been prepared since March, so we already have alternatives if that happens,” Anies said.
“Please do not speculate that there is no place [for burial] anymore,” he said.
BY : YUSTINUS PAAT, DION BISARA – JAKARTA GLOBE