8 People Who Refused to Wear Masks Forced to Dig Graves of COVID-19 Victims in Indonesia

A group of people in rural Indonesia who refused to wear masks in the fight against coronavirus were forced to dig the graves of people who had died from the disease last week.

According to CNN, the punishment was given to a group that included three middle-aged men and five minors. Authorities hoped the act would convince others to be more proactive in slowing the spread of the virus.

"There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them," a local official told Indonesia's Tribun News, according to a translation from USA Today.

Each grave was assigned two people, according to the outlet. One person was tasked with digging, while their partner inserted wooden support boards into the holes for bodies.

Much like the United States, Indonesia has been dealing with a "vocal" number of people who are purposely rejecting social distancing recommendations and not wearing masks, CNN notes.

According to a New York Times database, Indonesia has experienced more than 232,600 cases and 9,222 deaths from the disease. Across the globe, there have been nearly 30 million cases and 942,520 deaths.

The United States is nearing 200,000 deaths after reporting 6.6 million cases as of Thursday afternoon, the Times reported. The only other country in the world with more than 100,000 deaths attributed to coronavirus is Brazil, which has counted 134,106 lives lost.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization issued an alarming warning that coronavirus cases are surging in Europe and additional lockdowns are being considered to stop a second wave, CNN reported.

"Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March," WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge said, according to the outlet. "Last week, the region's weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients."

"In the spring and early summer we were able to see the impact of strict lockdown measures," he continued. "Our efforts, our sacrifices, paid off. In June cases hit an all-time low. The September case numbers, however, should serve as a wake-up call for all of us."

In the United States, many school districts are opening up for in-person lessons.

The medical journal Health Affairs estimated that at least 42 percent of school employees in the country are at high risk of developing severe coronavirus cases because of underlying conditions.

New York City Public Schools recently postponed their plan to reopen next week. During a press conference, Mayor Bill De Blasio explained that the last-minute decision came after a three-hour conversation with union leaders who represent the city's principals, teachers and other staffers.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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