Krabei Chrum village in Kbal Romeas commune, Sesan district, in Stung Treng province, has banned outsiders from entering to keep the Covid-19 pandemic out.
Village representative Sila Phorn, 65, said they blockaded the entrance to the village to prevent people who may be infected from entering. This, he said, came after they heard of the measures proposed by Ministry of Health officers and local authorities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Phorn said the villagers were mostly of the Lao and Banong ethnic groups. “It is our belief that if three people die in the village, we have to celebrate their memory in a ceremony and pray to their ancestors for happiness.
“But if the deaths were caused by a disease which took many lives, we have to ban outsiders from entering our village,” he said, adding that three villagers died in March – from typhoid, heart attack and gastritis,” he said.
At first, Phorn said, they agreed to impose the blockade for two or three days. However, the villagers decided to extend it further as they were worried outsiders would spread the virus if they entered the village.
Kbal Romeas commune council member Chan Phally said that practising Krabie Chrum village ancestral beliefs is something which could bring people together during the pandemic.
“Sometimes following the traditions in a community can help people cope. This is especially true while the world is confronting the Covid-19 outbreak,” he said.
According to Phally, local authorities are working in collaboration with Stung Treng Provincial Health Department officers to disseminate information on the best ways to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks.
He urged citizens to practice a high standard of hygiene, regularly wash hands with soap and use sanitiser especially after touching dirty surfaces or handling money.
He also advised people to keep safe distances from those outside their communities and to report to the authorities if their siblings or relatives return after working in other countries or provinces infected by the virus.