Wearing face mask has been made mandatory in Phuentsholing. And the people are complaining that they are being unnecessarily inconvenienced. We understand the views as they come from the people who have had to endure protracted lockdowns and service delivery gaps that unfortunately ensued in the wake of a dangerous and faceless enemy.

What the people must understand is that the focus of the State and the government is to ensure that Covid-19 infection, which is very much present even after more than two years, is still around. In fact, new and more dangerous variants are coming that could have us in a more difficult situation.

Not just in Phuentsholing, this requirement to wear face masks should be made mandatory in all the major town and city centres. Take the case of Thimphu, Bhutan’s biggest city. Except for schools, face mask is not a requirement anywhere.

To put the situation in the right perspective, we are inching closer to opening our borders again after a long shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the pandemic and its threats are still around. Many countries are fighting a new surge of the virus.

Closer home, in India, Covid-19 positive cases are rising at an alarming rate. On July 28, of the 189 samples collected in Phuentsholing, 10 tested positive. After Covid-19-related protocols were done away with on April 4, some 11,340 foreign workers had to undergo quarantine requirements.

The Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC19TF) has said that there is an increasing number of Covid-19 positive cases among foreign workers and Bhutanese returnees. Positive cases are also being detected in the community.

And we now are faced with another major health problem—monkeypox. Positive cases are rising in the neighbouring countries.

In an ever-shrinking world, keeping oneself cocooned inside a safety net is impossible. With greater connectivity today, we are forced to accept both blessings and bane that come with modernisation. Hardly has Covid-19 left us and a new problem has us looking for more safety measures.

We may be a small country hidden deep in the pockets of the mighty Himalayas but what happens at Wall Street and squabbles in a continent far away has an impact on the way we live.

Maintaining good personal hygiene, wearing face mask, and being aware of the signs and symptoms of diseases affecting us is important, today more than ever.

If these simple measures can protect us from the diseases that continue to threaten our lives, we ought to be grateful that the State and the government are taking measures to bolster our safety net.