After months of rising numbers of Covid-19 cases from the communities in Phuentsholing and Samtse, the battle in those areas is over. The resilience, courage, and hard work of the front liners and residents in those areas under the leadership and constant guidance of our King have succeeded in keeping us safe. 

Given the improvements particularly in these areas and across the country, the government announced some relaxation in restrictions. Shops can remain open until 10pm, and sports activities can resume in full strength albeit without spectators. However, the relaxations come with a condition: they can be revoked any time if Covid-19 cases from the community emerge again. 

Going by developments in the region and beyond, the pandemic is nowhere near its end. 

India is preparing for a major surge in Covid-19 cases. Infections have started to increase and experts in India are warning about another major spike in the number of Covid-19 cases next month, which is the peak festival season.  

Countries across the world are imposing additional restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19 and launching more aggressive vaccination campaigns. 

Just when the government announced the relaxation of restrictions, around the same time, a person travelling out of Phuentsholing tested positive for Covid-19 on the last day of quarantine. Another person tested positive again while in the quarantine yesterday. If they had not been in quarantine, the consequences would have been disastrous. 

Phuentsholing and Samtse had not reported any community case for more than two weeks, but experts say it is not possible to declare these places free of infection owing to the long, porous border.   

The seven-day quarantine for the high-risk areas along the border areas is a critical strategy in the fight against this pandemic. Else there would be more outbreaks and lockdowns beyond Phuentsholing and Samtse. From experience, we know the extent of damage even a three-day lockdown can do to the economy, to our lives. 

The nature of the virus has been changing. Now it does not require even 15 minutes of close contact with an infected person to get infected. This is how swiftly transmissible the virus has become.

Therefore, it is also equally important to adhere to safety protocols. Regular monitoring in the high-risk areas has proven effective in ensuring compliance with these safety measures and restrictions. 

With sustained efforts, we have some respite from the pandemic for now. How long this success will last is entirely up to us. We might have won the battle but the war is far from over.