Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai funeral services shortened due to Covid-19 deaths



Thai funeral services shortened due to Covid-19 deaths

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Buddhist monks and rescue volunteers from the Siam Nonthaburi foundation oversee the funeral of a woman who died after contracting Covid-19. AFP

Thai funeral services shortened due to Covid-19 deaths

Rescue workers dressed in protection gear hoist a gleaming coffin to a temple's crematorium -- a fast-tracked process that is a departure from Thailand's tradition of days-long funerals as the kingdom grapples with a Covid-19 outbreak.

The Thai capital Bangkok has been the epicentre of the country's third wave, with authorities struggling to contain the outbreak since it was first detected in a nightlife district in early April.

The number of cases identified in a single month surpassed Thailand's total figure in early April -- jumping from some 29,000 to 74,900 on Wednesday.

For families who have lost loved ones to the disease but are unable to afford a funeral, a volunteer association, Siam-Nonthaburi Foundation, has stepped in to help -- offering free cremation services in coordination with Wat Rat Prakong Tham, a Buddhist temple in Nonthaburi, a suburb of Bangkok.

But due to the risk of handling the bodies, the service must be done quickly -- and with plenty of safety precautions, said Pairat Soottoop, an official with the foundation.

"This is a risky job, a very difficult job," he said, adding that they typically cremate a single body each day, but this third wave has meant they are handling four funerals daily.

On Wednesday afternoon, volunteer rescue workers dressed in full PPE gear carried a gleaming gold-and-white coffin out of the ambulance, immediately transferring it to the temple's crematorium entry point.

Buddhist Thai funeral rites can last several days, with family members able to place flowers on the body before it is moved into the flames.

But with a disease like Covid-19, everything has changed -- a daughter's final words to her 59-year-old mother on Wednesday are brief, saying a farewell as she placed some robes on the altar.

Immediately after, she is required to exit the crematorium area -- to where the rest of her relatives wait. The rescue workers then douse her offerings with disinfectant.

As monks chant, the doors to the crematorium close. Moments later, smoke wafts out of the structure's roof.

Having seen so many of these fast-tracked funerals in the last month, Pairat's only words of advice is for those with older family members to take the utmost precautions.

"Most of the dead who are brought here are elderly," he told AFP.

Thailand so far has 315 deaths from Covid-19.

Officials say the third wave's rapid spread is due to the British variant of the virus, which was first detected last month.

On Wednesday, authorities said they have recorded its first case of the Brazil variant in state quarantine -- which can reinfect people who have had the original strain.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • ‘Golden’ Angkor Wat likely due to natural phenomenon: ANA

    Pictures and video clips of the Angkor Wat temple, its spires seemingly coated in gold, have been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting a sense of wonder among those who have seen them. Hong Sam Ath, who took the pictures and

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway