We knew it was coming. We knew it was a matter of when, not if. And now, we are fighting it.
Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is in our community. Daily cases are on the rise. Since December 20 when the capital city was put under lockdown, more than 100 cases have been detected so far. It is spreading – from Thimphu to Haa to Bumthang and Dagana.
The country is under a lockdown.
This was what was feared since the first case was reported earlier in March. Our worst fear, unfortunately, came true. Bhutan is fighting to contain a community transmission of Covid-19.
The good news is we are in the fight still.
The most important weapon in this fight is our willingness to fight together. In this war against an invisible enemy, what should be visible is the cooperation. Right from the beginning, nine months ago, when we first detected the first case, the call was for coming together. We did it and we had been successful in keeping the enemy at bay for so long.
We are yet to find out how the community transmission happened. But we knew it was inevitable and we were prepared for it. The porous border, the increasing cases at our doorsteps and the invisibility of the enemy all made us vulnerable. The success of containing the virus to quarantine centres might have made us complacent, but even with a community transmission, it is not all doom and gloom.
It is the time to really look inward and come together as a nation. With the guidance and leadership of His Majesty The King, the road ahead is clear. We know what to do. The health ministry and the thousands of frontline workers have committed to stop the spread. They need the support and the cooperation of the people.
Bhutanese are by and large, more aware of the pandemic. Going by the solidarity so far, victory is on the horizon. We see lesser shoppers even with restrictions lifted for people to go out and buy essentials. There are more reporting and requesting for tests than those hiding or feeling scared to come forward. There had been no known breach of Covid-19 protocols and service deliveries are more streamlined learning from the first lockdown.
The risk, however, is not over. It is, in fact, just starting. Until and unless we trace and test every individual who came into contact directly or indirectly, isolate them and make the community safe, we are still at risk.
The only viable solution is a nationwide lockdown. Businesses would be affected, livelihoods would be disrupted and development plans would be disrupted. But it should be seen as a little sacrifice on our part to win the battle. Imagining the concerns from the highest authority, the discomfort frontliners are going through during the cold winter and the relentless efforts of those fighting to contain the spread should encourage us to give our best.
There are not many times when the nation asks its people to come forward to fight a common enemy. This time around, it is not difficult. We are only asked to stay home, spend quality time with families, pray and exercise. The call is not to join those on the frontline. We should be able to bear some inconveniences.
A lot of initiatives are rolled on even as we face a full-blown outbreak. There are shelters for victims of domestic violence, the homeless and the disadvantaged. His Majesty’s Kidu is reactivated to look into the welfare of those affected by the pandemic. The government is apologetic of not being able to contain a community transmission even as they spend sleepless nights trying to contain it.
It is nobody’s fault. The solution to the problem is in how everybody believes and plays a small part.