Jigme Wangchuk

Bhutan is fully prepared for coronarivus. That’s what prime minister informed the nation from National assembly hall yesterday.

The World Health Organisation Thurday declared coronavirus as a global emergency. Infection has reached 7,816 and has claimed 170 lives.

Prime minister asked the speaker’s permission to update on the disease before every session. “We have professional doctors on both sides of the house.”

In Paro, from where most visitors from foreign countries enter Bhutan, surveillance began from January 11.

“If situation worsens in Bangkok, Thailand from where most visitors come, we might even cancel flights to and from Bangkok. If the situation demands, we will send our people to Bangkok from where we can arrest the cases before they come to Bhutan,”   prime minister said. “If the disease comes to Bhutan, it could be very difficult to handle.”

In the north, border guards have been advised to educate the people and discourage them from travelling for whatever reasons.

The greatest threat is from the porous border in the south. Prime minister said that the government BAFRA, forestry and immigration and customs officials were alerted who will monitor the situation.

“Suspect cases will not be allowed to enter Bhutan,” he said.

Thimphu has prepared 25 bedded hospital to cope if the disease comes to Bhutan. Phuentsholing and Paro hospitals have been asked to keep at least 10 beds ready for emergency cases.

“If worse comes to worse, we will evacuate Gidagom and Paro hospitals and make them the centres to accommodate coronavirus cases,” said prime minister.

Health professionals have been divided into three tiers for Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Paro. 

In the dzongkhags, health professionals have been asked to be ready for emergency calls. They cannot leave the country and should be available anytime.

“Scanners have been purchased. And we are fully prepared and there is no need to panic. However, in a situation like this much depends on personal responsibility,” prime minister said.

Bhutan has even postponed Food and Agriculture Organisation meeting and conference in Bhutan.

What would happen to the schools?

Prime minister said that schools in Bhutan might have to be closed if the disease comes to country.

Australian scientists are working to hit a 16-week deadline to test vaccine for the coronavirus on humans.