Recent defaulters caught. All test negative including their contacts    

Younten Tshedup 

We are lucky this time, but for how long?

This is a question that has surfaced after a series of incidents where people have illegally entered the country.

The latest report involved two men who had illegally entered the country on July 16 and towards the mid of May.

Following the reports, on the command of His Majesty, an emergency meeting among all stakeholders was held on July 18. His Majesty personally chaired and participated in the discussion.

On July 16, a resident of Rinchenphu village under Yoeseltse gewog in Samtse had entered the country without following the due procedure. Since his arrival, he visited two residents where he had contact with about eight people.

The 24-year-old man was working in Jaigaon, India since March.

In another incident, towards the mid of May, a man had illegally entered Thongzom (Malabasey) village in Samtse. This is the same village that has been put under quarantine following a recent breach.

After arriving in the country last month, the man had accompanied his wife to the national referral hospital to deliver their child.

However, much to the relief of many, a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday said that all tests conducted on the suspects and their primary contacts were negative.

Besides the contacts of the suspects in Samtse, the staff of the national referral hospital were also tested for Covid-19.

While the contacts have been advised to stay home, the men have been arrested and would be dealt as per the law, stated the press release.

The Covid-19 task force in Phuentsholing has also notified that all such illegal acts would be liable for the offence of criminal nuisance as per Section 410; failure to assist lawful authority as per Section 428 and breach of public order and tranquillity as per Section 448 of the Penal Code, 2004.

The PMO in its press release stated that such irresponsible acts besides being against the law, were detrimental to the country’s efforts of combating the spread of the pandemic in the communities.

The government since March 23 made it mandatory for all individuals travelling into the country to undergo facility quarantine.

“Such undesirable developments weigh heavy, not just on our resources, but our strength and spirit as the nation puts up the fight against this pandemic,” stated the press release.

The office has asked the public to cooperate and support the frontline workers and also to impart the message to friends and families in the villages who could be unaware of such happenings.

All local leaders and Parliament representatives have also been requested to reach out to their people in the grassroots.

The PMO also clarified that every Bhutanese wishing to come back to the country can do so as it was a wish and command of His Majesty The King.

“We will do all it takes to bring them home, but we need to know first. For this, we need your support.”

The press release stated that quarantine facilities were government-sponsored and ensured best of care and comfort for people staying in it.

“Under His Majesty’s leadership, we have come this far in securing the safety of our people from the disease. It is only in the collective effort that we will be able to see through these troubled times. Let’s rededicate our commitment, redefine our determination and work together.”

Meanwhile, supporting the tagline, ‘Together We Can!’, the health ministry also sought cooperation and solidarity from the public.

The ministry in the wake of a series of breaches took to social media stating, “Let’s look within, reflect and judge (for ourselves) whether what we clandestinely do as a single individual is bigger than the satisfaction for a few, or the harm it will bring to an entire community and country.”

It reminded the public of His Majesty’s concern that the reckless action of a single person could undermine the entire nation’s effort so far to control the pandemic.