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Kingdom’s pagodas to stage battle cry event against coronavirus

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A monk participates in a drum beating ceremony in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Kingdom’s pagodas to stage battle cry event against coronavirus

Senior monks in Cambodia have advised Buddhist pagoda heads across the country to beat drums and recite prayers loudly together on the evening of March 23 to ward off Covid-19.

The announcement by the Chief Monks of Cambodia on March 16 said that in order to take part in government efforts to tackle the virus, monks and Buddhist followers across the country should learn about the virus and practice good personal hygiene and food safety.

“Nationwide, pagoda’s [chief monks] should beat drums in unison and recite their prayers loudly in line with senior monk Anandatthera.

“Recite the prayer softly in Vesali city where he stays. This is the place that contains the canon of Buddhism of Nikaya Nº 52. We will unite to ward off disaster against this inhumane disease,” the announcement said.

Senior monks Non Nget also appealed to all pagoda monks and Buddhist followers across the Kingdom to follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health and National and international organisations.

He said if they meet people with symptoms of fever such as coughing, sneezing, flu, runny nose or a sore throat, they had to send them to the nearest health centre for emergency treatment.

“The senior monks of the Kingdom hope that head monks, deputy monks and monks of all pagodas will follow the call with the clearest mind and the greatest responsibility,” he said.

As of mid-morning on Tuesday, Cambodia announced that 33 people had contracted Covid-19, with the lastest nine cases contracted by Khmer Muslims who mistly attended a religious event in Malaysia.

Dr Hen Pheareak who has more than 20 years experience in respiratory tract infections told The Post on Tuesday that given the recent spike in virus cases, mass gatherings should be stopped, including religious gatherings.

“Mass gatherings at this time are not appropriate, especially at a pagoda which has a lot of elderly people. The majority of people are older, therefore they will have weaker immune systems.

“They are the most susceptible to the dangers of the disease. If the event proposed by the monks must go ahead, we all must be vigilant, wash our hands and practice the highest standards of personal hygiene.

“The pagodas should keep the event to less than five people, and keep their distances from one another. In this case, their actions will be positive to raise awareness of the disease.

“Numbers at the ceremony should be minimal. The beating of drums will act to inform citizens about vigilance and to keep their houses clean. The gathering is not wrong, but it should be done correctly,” he said.

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