Buddhist monks in Thailand have recently been spotted wearing custom sanitary masks and shields while collecting alms to protect themselves from the Chinese coronavirus, Thai media reports revealed Tuesday.
Photos and videos of the monks wearing the safety gear circulated online over the weekend, and have since been highlighted by Thai news outlets.
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The Buddhist monks sporting the masks belong to Matchantikaram Temple in Nonthaburi province, a heavily populated area northwest of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital.
Speaking to local media on Monday, some monks said they taught themselves how to make the protective gear via YouTube tutorial.
“We learned from YouTube and made them three days ago,” Phra Maha Somkiat Yannasuttho said. “I asked a parishioner to go out and buy transparent sheets, sponges and rubber bands, then we stapled them all together.”
“I wore a face mask, and I could barely breathe,” said another monk. “Then I did more research and found that droplets can enter the eyes too, so I made the face shield.”
Widely shared across Thailand, the story garnered praise for the resourceful monks’ craftiness and creativity. However, others worried that the masks would not do enough to protect the monks from the Chinese coronavirus.
Some pointed out that the monks still walked barefoot through the streets, and that the act of collecting alms (food) also posed a health risk.
“I want an exemption that allows the monks to be able to wear shoes while receiving alms because the roads are dirty and it poses risks to them getting injured and infected,” commented one man via social media.
Thailand’s first reported case of Chinese coronavirus was recorded in January. On Tuesday, a Thai health official said the country had reported 127 new coronavirus cases and one death. This raises Thailand’s total number of cases at press time Tuesday to 1,651, and its number of deaths to ten.