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Lockdown paints a dark picture in our minds. Some even liken it to a nuclear meltdown, and justly so.  Covid-19 has been an unrelenting virus that can affect us all, irrespective of age and status and place. The fact that we know why Covid-19 positive cases in Thimphu continues to rise even after lockdown means that the time has now come for us to adopt a novel way to deal with the novel threat.

And the threat is growing.

Here is the picture of what we have achieved together so far: not a single death from Covid-19; critical health services have been taken to the nooks and corners of the country so that our people can avail themselves of urgent medical attention; hundreds of positives cases are being given medical support, which is almost unimaginable elsewhere; and thousands continue to receive the Royal Kidu.

There is something called the “smart lockdown model”, which we have begun to adopt. But the people still continue to ask what “smart lockdown” really is. Education and awareness have been in short supply, it seems. A “smart lockdown” basically means finding an alternative to reduce the pressure on the economy and lives of the people during lockdown when everything is shut pretty much to a standstill. This, in Bhutan, has to be understood in the context of the new zone system: where the threat of Covid-19 is less, people are allowed to move around and carry out certain economic and other useful activities.

Lockdown is not a pleasant experience, of course, but it is in our hands to make it either short or long. Going by the number of Covid-19 positive cases that are being detected every day in Thimphu, there is no other way than to further prolong the lockdown. On January 5 alone, the capital was bombarded with 21 new Covid-19 positive cases. We also know that a person had breached the lockdown rules which helped spread the virus in the community.

We have come a long way but we also know where we are falling short. Information flow is one. It needs improvement. Information is best when delivered without embellishment. In an effort to play and negotiate with the language and words, we are creating more confusion among the people. This is not a healthy trend. Confusion creates fear and fear leads to panic. That’s the least we want at this time of our journey with the pandemic.

If we are doing so much better than other countries in dealing with the Covid-19 threats, we could be at the same time doing the worst by comparing with or against them. It is important that we set our own standards and that calls for a radical change in our ways in dealing with the virus and its threats. What about creating an efficient online reporting system that some countries have tried with good success rate? And more, why not?

The increasing cases of protocol breach means that we are far too lax and lenient. If what we have so far put to test doesn’t work, it may be time already to employ new measures. The tougher the measures, the better it would be for the country and the people. There is no better option left for Bhutan.

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