New Covid-19 initiative in Thailand

It seems that government policies are rising right along with daily Covid-19 cases in Thailand.  In the Northern Thai province of Phetchabun, Governor Krit Kongmuang initiated the “Aunty Next Door” public Facebook page, where he adopts a Pa – which translates to “aunty” – personality. 

The page is a public forum where the governor encourages other all-knowing aunties to report any breaches of government safety measures. 

Thailand’s omniscient aunties

Like the rest of the country, Phetchabun continues to enforce stringent measures like wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and temperature checks. The province has requested ฿3.7 million for medical and necessary supplies to build a field hospital, as reported by Matichon

Implementing strict precautions and public health measures is, indeed, a very effective way to combat the novel coronavirus. However, rolling out initiatives – like providing hygiene supplies – is essentially futile if citizens aren’t abiding by the rules. That’s where the aunties come in. 

Thai governor pretends to be aunty
It’s no secret that aunties know literally everything – even about things they have zero technical knowledge about. Whether it’s tips to landing the ideal partner, the “secret” to living a long life or most importantly, what the next door neighbours are doing.
Image credit: Lifestyle Asia
Image is for illustration purposes only 

Aunty social-media takeover

The primary sources of information for aunties in Thailand are LINE, WhatsApp and social media pages like Facebook – these platforms also happen to be where these ladies impart their wisdom. 

Imagine your favorite Pa’s timeline or your chat history with them – is it mostly legit conversation, or just a bunch of forwarded “useful” info? Yeah, we thought so. 

Governor Kongmuang is an admin of the Facebook page, and responds to tips as a caricature of a nosy and all-involved aunty.

Thai aunty facebook group post
Screenshot: ป้าข้างบ้าน

Translation: This is the governor’s Aunty Next Door page. Aunty’s going to keep Phetchabun squeaky clean of Covid-19. Nieces and nephews, be your aunty’s eyes and ears. Whisper any news on suspicious neighbours and aunty will handle it.

Governor Kongmuang updates the facebook page consistently, which suggests he is constantly receiving tips and questions from community members. The increasing audience also demonstrates community cohesion, which is crucial towards getting through a pandemic. 

quarantine information aunty group
A concerned netizen asks if they have to go into quarantine upon returning from Ayutthaya, to which Aunty responds with a flow-chart that details the circumstances under which one must quarantine
Screenshot: ป้าข้างบ้าน

Netizens also join in the fun and speak to the governor as if he’s a real aunty.

question on Thai aunty group

Netizen: Aunty, are you well?
Aunty: I’m well, if others aren’t ok please tell aunty.
Screenshot: ป้าข้างบ้าน

 The project seems to be working as they are getting tips, and also making the community laugh.  

Trust aunty, it’ll be okay

This pandemic seems to be never ending, and every day seems like another battle against Covid-19. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and jaded by all this – what’s important is trying to find something that’ll keep you motivated and laughing. In this case, the Phetchabun governor brought his community together with a caricature of a stereotypical Thai aunty. 

See other ways Thais are handling the pandemic: 

Featured images adapted from: Getty Images 

Image is for illustration purposes only 

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