Volunteers on bikes deliver medicine in Semarang, Indonesia

SEMARANG, Indonesia, July 30 (Reuters) – While pedaling through the Indonesian town of Semarang, Arrahman Surya Atmaja stops at a pharmacy to collect vitamins before hitting the road again to deliver them to an isolated person at home.

The 35-year-old is one of a small group of volunteer cyclists running errands for residents of the city of 3 million, which, along with the rest of the country, has been hit hard by the pandemic.

“I think how hard it would be to self-isolate or have COVID-19, so hopefully with that we can help the people who are,” said Arrahman, who started the service in April.

Indonesia has become the epicenter of COVID-19 in Asia with a record number of infections and deaths this month. The total number of infections has exceeded 3.2 million, including nearly 87,000 deaths.

In Semarang alone, authorities have reported around 78,000 cases and more than 5,600 deaths.

Arrahman Surya Atmaja, a 35-year-old cyclist hangs a delivery bag on a fence at a house of a person self-isolating from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Semarang, Central Java Province, Indonesia, July 26, 2021 REUTERS / Budi Purwanto

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Arrahman said delivering drugs or vitamins are the most common requests, which he picks up through Whatsapp or Instagram.

Once however, he said, he ended up making an unknowingly delivery to a hospital intensive care unit, a situation he tries to avoid.

“I was scared, but my feelings disappeared when I remembered that I only wanted to help,” he said. Cyclists try to ensure contactless deliveries.

Arrahman and the other volunteers often have to lift their bikes over barricades blocking “red areas” or areas of high infection.

“Maybe because we are helping the community it will kind of boost our immunity, maybe that’s the way it is,” he joked.

Reporting by Budi Purwanto; Editing by Jane Wardell

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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