A local transmission in Phuentsholing has been confirmed with three more cases detected on Saturday. The cases are in clustered areas like the temporary shelter at Toorsa and the National Housing Development Corporation colony. What this means is that if we are not cautious, the risk of transmission is higher.

As a preventive measure, a lockdown in all the thromdes and satellite towns in the southern border dzongkhags had been imposed since Friday night. Contacts are being traced and tested. Fortunately, no positive cases had been detected in other places outside Phuentsholing.

But that doesn’t mean we are safe or we need not be cautious.

By Saturday morning, people were panic buying and rumour were rife that there would be another nationwide lockdown. By evening, the concerns disappeared and everything became normal indicating that we are still only reactive, not preventive even with local cases.

We have achieved 93 percent vaccination coverage, most positive cases are from the quarantine centres, yet the Phuentsholing incident shows how vulnerable we are and how uncertain the situation is. A look at the health ministry’s Covid-19 dashboard should be concerning us. If not, what is happening around us, especially in neighbouring India, should worry us.

Our neighbour is suffering from a second wave that is getting out of control. Daily cases are breaking records. Yesterday it was the biggest daily surge with 261,500 positive cases in a day. There are reports of shortage of vaccines and medicines even as the country ramps up the vaccination programme. Worst, the young are not spared and are dying.

What happens in India will affect our strategies. We are waiting for the second dose and critics in India are questioning the government’s vaccine diplomacy as some states run out of vaccines. Our second round of vaccination could be delayed. Those who received the first dose are among the thousands who are infected. At home too, apart from the students, the adults received the first dose. 

The best still is the public safety measures. The message is clear from the head of the World Health Organisation. It boils down to what the government and individuals do. While there are still uncertainties surrounding Covid-19, now with a second variant, what is clear and scientifically proven is that face masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene work. The good thing about this is it is cheap and easy to practice. What is also scientifically proven is that complacency drives transmission. We still don’t understand. The government has insisted on this. And the rules are still in place. We are all openly flaunting the rules.

The prime minister since the beginning of the pandemic has warned the people that if we are complacent, we will be overwhelmed with cases and deaths. Our Duthroes (crematoriums), he warned, would not be able to handle the number of deaths. This is happening in India. It is a matter of time before we experience that if we forget the threat of the novel coronavirus.