Ever since the world was hit by Coronavirus, every country has been fighting the pandemic. Bhutan’s response to the pandemic is, perhaps, one of the best in the world. Guided by dynamic leadership of His Majesty the King, the government has been working relentlessly to protected the people. Our fight against Covid-19 is based on giving no single life to the pandemic and keeping the enemy at bay.
Alerted by an American tourist who entered the country with symptoms of Covid-19, Bhutan has been working hard to prevent community transmission.
On March 22, His Majesty addressed the nation regarding the closure of international borders. The very next day, all the porous borders were sealed and inter-border movement was restricted. The farsighted vision prevented the disease transmission from India where the cases are still surging at an alarming rate. However, ferrying essential items like food and medical consignments continued under stringent surveillance of frontline workers.
Besides, the government prioritised the provision of services to the people. Once the international tourists were restricted from entering the country, around 50,000 people lost their jobs in tourism and hospitality sector. Again, due to restriction of unnecessary movement within the country as the cases spiked internationally, there was loss in everyday business including earning of cabbies. His Majesty provided kidu to the affected people so that they can live normal lives.
The rise in Covid-19 cases in most of the countries triggered social curfews and lockdowns. In such situations, Bhutanese people working abroad lost jobs too and students were highly exposed contracting the disease. They had no option than to live in whatever the situation was. The government promptly brought them back and bolstered safety systems.
Further, Bhutan initiated accelerated de-suung training under the command of His Majesty. With the help of De-Suung, borders were manned. The people who signed up for the training were youth who were willing to serve the taswa-sum with utmost dedication and sincerity.
The people with various occupational backgrounds came out to help government during the time of pandemic. For example, farmers came with vegetables and dairy products, cabbies and vehicle owners offered free vehicle services and businesspeople provided whatever financial support they could render. The general public adhered to the pandemic protocols and laws. With such spirit of unity and oneness, Bhutan gained the strength that cannot be beaten easily by the virus.The clergy has been reciting prayers and performing religious ceremonies for the well-being of the country and people. Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, dratshangs, rabdeys and monasteries across the country have been performing the prayers for the world.
Bhutan has been working not to lose single life to the pandemic. The government has allocated both financial and human resource to contain the global enemy. Every Bhutanese returning from abroad is put under 21-day mandatory quarantine and is tested for Covid-19 several times free of cost. Bhutanese people living in Jaigaon were evacuated to safer place by constructing houses for them. The government has become more vigilant.
The Ministry of Health has been at the front and centre of whole effort. Starting from creating awareness through Bhutan Broadcasting Service, newspapers, and social media to organising regular press briefing, the ministry has disseminated Covid-19 information to the people. With provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), scheduled testing of frontline workers, buying of adequate test kids and making enough space for Covid-19 patients across the country, everything was organised, monitored and coordinated well. Such meticulous activities have left no space for the disease to spread.
Further, the government organised sudden but timely lockdown under the command of His Majesty The King. The timely lockdown was appreciated and lauded by the people. During the lockdown, people were provided home delivery services of essential items, emergency services were provided to sick and pregnant women.
All these go to show that Bhutan’s fight against the pandemic has been exemplary.
Contributed by Guru Prasad Khadal