The scare of COVID-19 is likely to continue. Should we worry about the disease? Yes. Ought we to panic? No.

Perhaps no country is better prepared than Bhutan is in the face of deadly respiratory disease that is threatening to shut the world down.

Fortunately, we are blessed with our smallness on all fronts.

We are harnessing that opportunity today. And, at the same time, it is at this time that our own people could be the biggest hurdle.

We cannot have this situation in our country.

What we must now know is that if you have travelled anywhere outside of the national borders, you must self-quarantine yourself to prevent the spread of the disease.

Many are not doing this. And that is why the threat of the disease continues to grow. We are a small country with limited resources trying to keep the disease at bay. We have been largely successful but the battle has just about begun.

The fear is coming and it will only grow as nations fail to tackle COVID-19. Not a single nation is yet able to handle the problem as it continues to appear.

We have so far quarantined 85 people at the quarantine facilities in the country; 244 are being placed on home quarantine. As Kuensel went to press last night, 250 were tested for the pandemic.

What we must know, more importantly, is that COVID-19 is gaining ground because of the carelessness of the people. 

In countries like Australia, the people who intentionally leave the quarantine facility are fined AUD 50,000. Could we do the same or more? It is an urgent question.

Bhutan will have to follow the same system because no nation can be more protected than Bhutan if every Bhutanese understood the dark powers of the disease and acted responsibly.

There are those who say that the prime minister, particularly the health ministry, is changing their stand every other day. This is natural. What this shows is the nation’s preparedness. One strategy is not going to work. In this sense, Bhutan is by much ahead of the countries in the region and beyond in the battle against COVID-19.

If the regional capacity building is the priority today, it could be defunct tomorrow. The same is with the national strategy. What we must know is that we have built centres around the county to deal with the pandemic, if worse comes to worst.

Foundations have been put in place around which we can move easily depending on our needs.

The government and the country have done enough. If at all we are lacking, anywhere, it is the cooperation of the people. And this is the greatest danger facing the country today, not the COVID-19 itself.

It is amazing how a small nation like Bhutan is able to respond to a challenge like COVID-19 given it’s resource shortage.

To reiterate, the country and the government have done everything possible in their capacity; the people have not. This gap must not exist. The Bhutanese who choose to be irresponsible by not being honest with their travel history should be made to pay a price because they are aggravating the risks. 

The quarantine facilities are designed for safety of all; they are not detention centres. This must be understood clearly.

If every Bhutanese with symptoms walked into the many centres around the country, there would be education first. Then there would be awareness.

Education and awareness are the most effective tools in our hands today to face COVID-19. And these little things must be imposed on every Bhutanese.

The educated citizens have the responsibility to educate the people. Are we doing enough each individually? No. Could we do more? Yes.