PHETCHABUN — No Happy New Year, please.
A provincial governor on Wednesday cancelled the annual Thai New Year’s gathering at his office in order to prevent the potential spread of coronavirus.
Although Songkran is over a month away, Phetchabun Gov. Suebsak Iamwicharn said it’s best to be cautious amid the virus epidemic, which reportedly killed one Thai national so far. He also ordered all local government officials to wear sanitary masks from today onwards.
Per Thai New Year custom, Thais usually gather and line up to wish senior citizens or officials a long and happy life, then pour water on their hands.
Buddhists also sprinkle water on Buddha figures, while monks splash holy water onto worshippers to bless them during Songkran.
But those traditions may have to be suspended for now. Suebsak said he told local temples to refrain from those water-related activities, just to be safe.
“A hospital director also informed us that water is also a carrier of this virus so the Buddhist Office has been instructed to ask all temples to cancel water activities,” Suebsak said.
But he stopped short of banning Songkran water fights and other events in the province. The head of Tourism Authority of Thailand previously said he had no plan to cancel Songkran festivities sponsored by the government so far, despite concerns that the virus could spread through the crowded events.