Thailand delays major holiday, shuts schools to curb virus spread

18, Mar. 2020

BANGKOK, Kyodo - Thailand's government on Tuesday decided to postpone celebrations of Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year's holiday held in mid-April, and to close schools for two weeks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Schools and recreational facilities such as bars and cinemas will also be closed for two weeks from Wednesday.

(People play with water pistols during Songkran Water Festival to celebrate Thai New Year, in Bangkok, Thailand 13 April, 2019.)</p><p>
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</p><p>[NurPhoto/Getty/Kyodo]
(People play with water pistols during Songkran Water Festival to celebrate Thai New Year, in Bangkok, Thailand 13 April, 2019.)

[NurPhoto/Getty/Kyodo]

Songkran is typically celebrated on April 13-15 by people splashing water on each other in streets closed off to traffic.

During this time, many people return to their hometowns and traffic greatly increases, so the government decided that the risk of infection would increase.

The date to which Songkran will be postponed has not been decided.

According to the Health Ministry, Thailand had a total of 177 infected people by Tuesday, with 30 new cases reported. (Kyodo)