Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA) - Villagers in Ogan Komering Ilir District (OKI) of South Sumatra Province have switched from weaving mats to producing cloth masks amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

"Since President Joko Widodo mandated the use of masks for anyone who goes (out) or is active outside of the home, the Menang Raya Village community has produced 8,000 pieces of cloth masks,” Suparedy, chief of Menang Raya Village, said here on Wednesday.

The women and men of Menang Raya, which is a peatland, have been traditionally weaving mats out of "purun" weed (Eleocharis dulcis), and they have the necessary sewing skills and adequate facilities for producing masks, which have been mostly provided by the Peat Restoration Agency (BRG).

Under the guidance of the BRG, the village mothers and women have been able to make cloth masks of quite good quality, Suparedy said.

Currently, locals are trying to produce at least 2,500 face masks ordered by BRG South Sumatra.

Orders for masks are expected to continue to flow to the villagers, who have also been impacted economically by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the meantime, the Indonesian Government’s spokesperson for National COVID-19 Response, Achmad Yurianto, has stated that as of Tuesday (April 21), 95 additional patients have recovered from COVID-19 in the country. The number of new cases stands at 375, while the death toll has reached 25.

“The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 7,135, with 616 people dead, 186,330 people under monitoring (ODP), and 16,763 patients under surveillance (PDP)," Yurianto noted.

The Indonesian Government has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency and imposed large-scale social distancing measures, especially in Jakarta, which has reported the highest number of cases, West Java, Central Java, and Riau Province. (INE)

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Translator: Yudi Abdullah, Fardah
Editor: Suharto
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