The power of the pandemic shook us to the core. We began talking about it and, more important, we began acting promptly against it because we knew how devastating it could be if we did not. Suddenly we had changed our lifestyles. As days go on, however, we seem to be becoming more relaxed, even blissfully nonchalant. Fatigue or laxity has begun to sink in among certain sections of our population. This is the new danger besides the Covid-19 itself.
In this sense, we now have an added problem to deal with. And it is going to be expensive. How do we handle such a situation? Covid-19 has no particular treatment or medication yet. We do not know how long it will take for scientists and researchers to come up with a vaccine. So, until the world discovers an answer for this pandemic, stopping the disease from spreading will be a challenge. In our experience, lockdown and physical distancing have been effective, yet many countries are failing to follow these critically important and effective health protocols.
The question is what can Bhutan do to keep her people safe from the pandemic. We can draw from our strengths. In the border towns, especially people as old as 70, are volunteering to guard the border and the movement of people. With His Majesty The King leading the fight, we have many advantages to capitalise on. The government is making arrangements to accommodate Bhutanese coming back from abroad because our fight against the pandemic is based on the premise—and promise—that not a single Bhutanese should succumb to the disease.
The fact, however, is that we now have a multi-pronged problem in our hands. The pandemic besides, we must guard our porous borders because the positives cases in the neighbouring countries are rising by the day. Yesterday, for example, when India eased lockdown, the country saw single-day rise in Covid-19 cases—1,553. What this means is that in the absence of right treatment or medication, lockdown and physical distancing are the only effective measures we have. But so much also depends on the leadership. It is unfortunate that when the world is faced with one of the most dangerous pandemics in recent memory, leaders are busy scrambling for political mileage.
For Bhutan, the new challenge is to advise the people to continue to take the pandemic seriously. The threat is ever-present. When the old and the infirm are not only ready but already are giving their best to protect the country and the people, the best contribution the younger lot can make, especially those who have just been out of facility quarantine, is stay home and help the nation fight the disease head-on.
This is the time when we can render our support to each other. This is the time when we should rise as one nation.