Culture Ministry issues Songkran warning

Culture Ministry issues Songkran warning

The Culture Ministry has reinforced its order for Thais to skip the Rot Nam Dam Hua, a solemn yet signature traditional ceremony during the Songkran Festival (Thai New Year), to help contain Covid-19 transmission.

While Songkran has been postponed formally, the ministry fears families might participate in risky activities anyway.

"The announcement is meant to protect the most vulnerable group as elders are prone to contract the virus from airborne droplets produced by young family members," Culture Minister Itthipol Kunplome said on Wednesday.

The announcement, signed by culture permanent secretary, Kitsayapong Siri, will take effect during the Songkran Festival on April 13-15.

Rot Nam Dam Hua is a water-pouring ceremony, a traditional rite for young people to show respect to elders and ask for their blessings. The announcement suggested Thais avoid going to temples and bathe Buddha statues at home instead.

It advised Thais to observe social distancing by staying at least one metre away from each other and to wear sanitary masks. According to the Ministry of Public Health, the risk from the coronavirus rises with age. The mortality rate for patients aged 60-69 year from the disease is 0.7%. That figure rises exponentially to 10.5% for those aged 70-79, and 16.7% for those 80 and above.

Social interaction with family members is a primary cause for infections among the elderly, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Approximately 35% of patients in Bangkok aged 60 and above contracted Covid-19 from family members, 21% from friends, and 16% from regularly frequented places, according to CCSA data.

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