Thai Authorities in the Southern province of Yala are hard-put trying to convince local Muslim leaders of the need to obey an order suspending Friday prayers at all mosques. The Chularatchamontri ordered prayers suspended amid worries that mass gatherings spread the Covid-19 coronavirus disease.
Provincial governor Chaiyasit Panitpong has meanwhile called on residents to contact health personnel if they suspect people are infected with the Covid-19.
Yala is the southern border province hit hardest by the pandemic. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Wednesday reported the number of infections at 35. One more than neighbouring Pattani.
But the Provincial Health Department in Yala posted on Wednesday that there were 41 cases. According to the Bangkok Post, officials in Yala could not be reached for comment.
To date there have been 12 deaths nationwide attributed to Covid-19 — and two of them occurred in Yala. Furthermore during a three-day span, between Sunday and Tuesday. Both victims had visited Kelantan state in northern Malaysia on separate occasions. Both also developed symptoms after returning to Yala province.
Suspension of Muslim prayers at all mosques
The Chularatchamontri on March 25 announced the suspension of prayers at all mosques on Friday. He also advised all Muslims to pray at home, to help curb the spread of the virus.
Friday prayer at the local mosque is the most important prayer of the week for Muslims. Authorities are worried that large gatherings could worsen the spread of Covid-19. They have locked down Yala province since Sunday, when infections rose suddenly, telling people to stay in their homes.
The province of Yala in southern Thailand has 514 mosques, both big and small, and they are in all districts. And 30 of them in Betong, Yaha, Bannang Sata and Than To districts defied the Chularatchamontri call and called the faithful to prayer at the local mosque last Friday.