Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
Besides scaring some residents in Phuentsholing, the news of five Covid-19 confirmed cases in Jaigaon has not affected the town as it continues with business as usual.
As usual, the day started slowly but by evening the town was bustling yesterday.
Shopkeepers said there was no change in the movement of people.
Compared to the initial days after the border gate closed on March 23 due to the pandemic, there are more people on the streets these days, a shopkeeper, Dawa Zangmo said.
More non-Bhutanese people are also seen in the town, she said.
A restauranteur, Karma Tshering Dorji said with strict vigilance along the borders nothing changes in Phuentsholing.
“However, the risk lies with the vehicles coming into the town from India,” he said.
He said that this is the time to strictly adhere to the government directives on safety measures.
“People must cooperate.”
“If people cooperate and follow the safety measures, there is no need for police or Desuups monitoring every day,” he said.
The restauranteur said that some people walked without masks in the town and protested when he politely asked them to wear. They say people in Thimphu and other places did not have to use masks so stringently.
A resident, Tashi Wangchuk said that the news of Covid-19 cases in Jaigaon was unfortunate.
“They are our neighbour and we feel for them but we can’t help them from here,” he said.
“The only thing is we have to be mindful ourselves here.”
Another resident, Lhamo said that there was a strong reason to be scared now.
“Jaigaon is our neighbour and if they have positive cases, it is a strong indication we are at risk,” she said, adding that people can no longer be complacent.
Non-Bhutanese who run businesses in Phuentsholing and have families across the border are also worried. One shopkeeper said he had his entire family in Jaigaon.
He said he had called his family members to be very careful.
Meanwhile, the use of face masks in the bordering town has drastically improved. This is mainly because there are policemen and Desuups asking people to use them. However, hand-wash practise has decreased.
On June 7, five positive cases were reported in Jaigaon.
A positive case has also been reported at Chamarchi. A 36-year-old man, an Adivasi had returned home from Bangalore and was quarantined.
He was released after completing his 14-day quarantine period, before his results were out, which came out positive yesterday.
Chamarchi borders with Samtse and it is the dzongkhag’s primary trading centre across the border.