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Volunteers dressed as Black Panther and Spider-Man sprayed disinfectant on Indonesia’s island of Java. Their colleague, wearing the winged helmet of local superhero Gatotkaca also shouted, “Wear masks, wash hands and stay alert.”

The superheroes handed out masks, containers of hand sanitiser and bamboo slit drums, while demonstrating how to correctly wash hands, don masks and maintain security following reports of a spate of thefts in the residential area.

The Southeast Asian nation has reported more than 11,000 new virus infections and 845 deaths, though a sluggish early response to the pandemic and low rates of testing cause medical experts to worry there could be far more cases.

“(If the) superheroes support (the measures), the children will definitely obey the orders,” said Widanarko, who coordinated the event aimed at teaching people to protect themselves.

“First, washing their hands. Second, not wandering outside and always wearing a mask,” added Widanarko, who uses one name.

People could use the traditional bamboo slit drums handed out to sound the alarm over robberies or thefts by any criminals who take advantage of measures taken against the novel virus, said Widanarko, speaking in the Kampung Larangan neighbourhood.

One resident, Herni Kurniawati, welcomed the effort, saying it would encourage people to change their habits. “Usually it’s very difficult to ask the children to wear masks because for them it’s a hassle,” added Kurniawati.

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