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Khmer New Year celebrations face cancellations as COVID-19 fears mount

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
New Year Sankranta 2019 was held in Kampong Speu province. Facebook

Svay Rieng administration hall on Saturday officially announced the cancellation of the Angkor Sankranta Festival, a four-day celebration of the Khmer New Year held in April, as COVID-19 fears mount in the Kingdom. The province is the second to do so following Siem Reap province’s cancellation earlier this month.

“All public officials and citizens must be notified the Angkor Sankranta Festival, to be celebrated from April 13 to16, will no longer push through due to fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” the administration said in a public notice.

Svay Rieng resident Thun Chana said although the cancellation of the event is regretful, the action is a good preventive measure for the ongoing global health crisis.

“Last year, the Angkor Sankranta Festival in Svay Rieng was filled with joy as many people came to participate in the celebration. We usually celebrate Khmer New Year by visiting our hometown and our families but, given the rising concerns about the virus spreading, I think it is a good idea to suspend the festival this year as no one will dare go to public gatherings,” he said.

People enjoy water splashing during last year’s festival in Kampong Speu provice. Facebook

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang said yesterday preparations for the Angkor Sankranta Festival in their province are still ongoing.

“Our administration will still celebrate the festival as usual as it is an opportunity to provide happiness to the people. However, should there be a surge in COVID-19 cases, we will issue a notice to our people regarding the event,” he said.

Meanwhile, Preah Sihanouk provincial spokesman Kheang Phearon said yesterday he is still awaiting a decision from the provincial leader and thus could not comment further on the matter.

On March 7, Prime Minister Hun Sen declared the cancellation of festival celebrations in Siem Reap province due to mounting COVID-19 concerns. The temporary closure of schools in the province was also announced following the coronavirus diagnosis of a man in Siem Reap.

At present, twelve confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been found in the Kingdom.

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