Thais have subdued Songkran New Year celebrations amid COVID-19 outbreak

Thailand’s traditional Songkran New Year has been a subdued affair this week following an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. The vibrant event normally sees mass water fights across the country joined in by millions of tourists who visit the country for the spectacle. However, the government banned parties and has closed bars and clubs around the country during the three-day festival from April 13 to 15 to try and contain rising numbers of coronavirus infections. Footage from the Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai province shows the quiet scenes as devotees gave donations to monks. There were also temperature checks and hand sanitising stations for people visiting the religious building. The Chiang Mai Communicable Disease Committee said it had ordered a suspension of Songkran activities to prevent large crowds from gathering, which could spread the COVID-19 virus. Health chiefs said an additional 319 COVID-19 cases were reported in the province on Wednesday (April 14), taking the total number of infections there to 1,579 since the pandemic started. There were 1,335 cases across Thailand today – a record high – taking the total number of infections in the country to 34,575.