Indonesia church decorates Christmas tree with masks, sanitizers to promote COVID awareness

A Catholic church in Indonesia has decorated a Christmas tree with protective masks and hand sanitizers 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 Dec. 20.

“The tree was made with the intention of making people more aware of the importance of maintaining health protocols,” 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 colorful donated masks and hand sanitizers, and took a week to complete the three-meter tree, he said.

Christmas is a public holiday in Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, but is only celebrated by around 10 percent of its 270 million people.

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 Dec. 20, bringing the total number of deaths in the Southeast Asian nation so far to 19,880, data from the national COVID-19 taskforce showed.

Indonesia has Southeast 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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