Monks don white PPE to deliver COVID-19 aid

With the flowing saffron-colored robes, Buddhist monks are a regular sight in Thailand. And now Thai monks put white PPE over their robes from head to toe and venture into COVID-19 outbreak areas to help public health workers deliver services and relief.

Monks have been taking nasal swabs and administering COVID-19 tests, hauling in oxygen tanks and helping to transfer patients to hospitals and those who have passed to crematoriums. Many of the areas they are working in are low-income neighborhoods in Bangkok. The monks also bring food and medicine to those in need.

“We take care of everyone we come across,” said Phra Mahapromphong, Deputy Abbot of Suthi Wararam Temple in the Thai capital.

The Deputy Abbot learned how to take swabs and administer tests from doctors and nurses at his temple, which is serving as an isolation center for those infected with the coronavirus.

Monks typically roam the streets in the early morning for people to make merit by offering food. Now, many people are unaware that those bringing help are monks because their identifying robes cannot be seen beneath the personal protective equipment.

Asked why he is willing to put his personal safety at risk to venture into COVID-19 “hot zones,” Phra Mahapromphong said that it was time to give back to the people. At the very least, with the hope to encourage people to keep fighting.

Another monk, Phra Supornchaithammo, said that in a situation like this, everybody needed a helping hand and he was proud to be there for them.

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