A close call?

Thousands of people thronged at the markets beginning yesterday afternoon as rumour of a possible lockdown in the capital went rife all over social media. Until late last night, streets remained clogged with traffic and shoppers collected whatever they could in the last minute buying spree before the shops closed. 

Lack of food and other essential items during the previous lockdowns are vivid in our memory. Those dependent on alcohol, doma, and tobacco gathered as much to last through a lockdown. No one enjoys the lockdown. We saw a spike in abuse cases within homes and many undergo trauma. Yet here we are, or almost. 

We knew this was coming. We knew we had to be vigilant. But now it’s obvious not all did. We didn’t learn from the previous two lockdowns. Why didn’t we do what was required of us? Why did we slack? 

Questions are many but for now, we need to fix the gaps and ensure it does not recur. The fact that a cook of a quarantine facility could breach the strict protocols repeatedly says volumes about our seriousness of action against such a deadly unseen enemy. 

We also need to revisit the safety protocols of the quarantine facilities. An increasing number of frontline workers contracting the virus from those centres means the old measures do not suffice. 

As much as it is important to trace each of the contacts of the cook, who tested positive for the virus, and their contacts, fixing accountability on those responsible is necessary. 

This mishap occurred even as the health ministry was testing more than 6,000 in the past 24 hours after the outbreak in Phuentsholing. Nine in Phuentsholing have already tested positive in the community out of those 2,519 who underwent Covid-19 RT-PCR tests.  Another lockdown would tear the very fabric of the society further asunder. 

We need not look far to see the extent and intensity of this dreadful pandemic. Thousands are dying every day, hospitals have neither oxygen nor beds for those infected. Many will now try to move to safer places like Bhutan. Entry for all personnel must be restricted. At least temporarily. Not for any other reason but the safety of those, foreigners and natives alike, within the country. Like the health minister said, our health care system would not survive even a fraction of the devastation we are witnessing in the region. 

Officials were tracing contacts through the night. Desuups were mobilised, everyone stood on standby should the national Covid-19 taskforce call for lockdown 3.0. The results of the contacts would be known today morning. But, what is clear is that we had been warned. Lockdown or not, community transmission or not, the meessage is clear. We have to prevent it together and have been prepared for the worst. 

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