Rajesh Rai | Samtse

Covid-19 positive cases may be rising in the country but Samtse town is blissfully calm.  There is no fear. There is no panic.

Most visitors in the town are villagers who come to buy basic essentials.

At the bus stand yesterday, Kunti Maya Mongar and her friends were waiting for their bolero pickup truck. They had come from Mandreni village.

“We know about the physical distancing but we are from the same village. There is no fear of the virus,” Kunti Maya Mongar said.

Everything was normal in Samtse, she said.

A villager from Panbari, Karna Bahadur Gurung, who had come to the town for shopping said villagers were on the move continuously.

“This is the only place we have for shopping. There is no point getting scared,” he said. “We have come here for our routine shopping.”

The villagers are travelling mostly in private boleros. No one care about maintaining physical distance.

A taxi driver, Tshering Dorji, said there was no use to setting passenger limit for taxis in Samtse.

“Why only taxis and buses?” he asked, explaining that all other private vehicles should also be limited from carrying more people.

However, all hotels and restaurants in Samtse have marked their floors with tapes and colours to encourage physical distancing. Hand-washing stands and sanitisers are made freely available. In restaurants, only two persons can share a table.

One hotelier, Norbu, said that while hotels, restaurants and shops were following the strict rule to prevent Covid-19, the people were botherless and walked openly in the town without maintaining physical distance.

“This is my only concern,” he said, adding that people were still very complacent.

Although hotel and restaurant business is down by more than 70 to 80 percent, Norbu said he would provide his hotel property as quarantine centre if the need arose.

Grocery owners, meanwhile, said sales have increased with more villagers coming to buy. But there is no visible rush.

Gyembo, a grocery store owner, said there was rush a few days ago. “People were taking two to three bags,” he said.“I brought 125 bags of rice today.”

Owner of Goyal and Sons, Hemant Agarwal, said villagers from Dorokha Drungkhag and Tading Gewog were the ones who visited his shop the most.

“About 70 bags of rice were sold yesterday,” he said.