With more Covid-19 cases emerging from the community, the government has extended the lockdown for Thimphu until January 22. In the other 13 dzongkhags, test results yesterday were supposed to determine the way forward.

Community cases are reported from Gyalpoizhing in Mongar, Panbang in Zhemgang and Nganglam in Pemagatshel, and Sipsu in Samtse, besides additional places in Phuentsholing, Wangduephodrang, Punakha, and Gelephu. In other words, the virus has spread to all parts of the country within days.

Primary contacts are also testing positive of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Frontline workers, including health officials, have been infected.

Concerns are increasing about the high rate of infection. The daily numbers of positive cases are alarming. On January 17 and 18, daily cases soared above 100. The numbers, however, dropped to 54 yesterday.

While there is nothing surprising about the sharp increase in the daily cases given the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant, it is disheartening to see how we are responding to it after living with the pandemic for the last two years.

Even as cases surge, many people look forward to lockdown relaxations, particularly to attend dhar ceremonies and other functions. Many also want to travel to their villages since it is time for annual lochoes and archery matches.

Such gatherings should be avoided or limited to family members as it makes it easy for the virus to spread. Local leaders should implement the government directives strictly.

In urban areas, large gatherings should be prohibited. It is the responsibility of every citizen to stay home and follow the lockdown protocols. We should not be surprised if people are still visiting neighbours and playing a game of dice together, as there is no one to monitor it.

Let us stay indoors. The government imposes the lockdown for a purpose. If the purpose is not met, it is the common people, especially those surviving on daily wages, who will suffer.

The government should facilitate easier availability of essentials. That should be the last thing on people’s minds during these difficult times. Assuring that we are prepared is one thing, but making it available to those in need should be a priority.

While we can hope for the best, we should be equally prepared for the worst. The Omicron variant is feared to infect fully vaccinated people and reinfect people who were infected before. Self-help, in this pandemic, is the best help.