Even as international border crossing has been restricted since March 23 to prevent importation and spread of Covid-19 in the country, it has been found that people continue to sneak in and out of the borders clandestinely. This poses serious risk of the disease spreading in the country.

The immigration department has issued a new notification which states that individuals wilfully violating the restriction shall henceforth face severe consequences, including punitive action. If harsher measures are called for to keep our people safe, so be it.

Many are found to be sneaking out to bring in foreign workers. Recently, just four days ago, the police in Samdrupjongkar arrested several individuals who were trying to smuggle in tobacco products. Those who had crossed the border have been quarantined but that does not solve the problem. The threat of infection coming into the country from across the border remains high.

What we must know is that the problem is not just in the border areas. We are dealing with a pandemic that is spreading like wildfire. Consequences have been deadly in many countries. It is in this light that the people should understand the importance of lockdown.

If health advice and protocols are observed sincerely, we can succeed in keeping the pandemic away, albeit not without disruptions. In the countries that have done well to suppress the transmission of Covid-19, it has been found that social or physical distancing can reduce the chance of the disease spreading by almost 70 percent.

Spatial and temporal distancing is, thus, critically important. Both will come with costs, of course, but the need of the hour is to keep our nation and people safe from the pandemic.

It is for this reason that we need to relook and upgrade some of our strategies constantly. Officials responsible ought to make sure that there is strict vigilance; we cannot afford to be complacent. When the entire nation is impelled to face one of the biggest scourges of the modern age, people taking advantage of the situation for personal gains is plain despicable.

We have so far not had a single local Covid-19 positive case. The chances of importation from the borders remain high, though. That is why vigilance has to be strict in the border areas. We must, therefore, restrict unnecessary travel as far as possible and encourage spatial and temporal distancing for as long as we must.