Staff Reporter

His Majesty The King has commanded that the most important objective for Bhutan during the COVID pandemic is to save lives.  

The Lyonchhen, Dr Lotay Tsering, said that His Majesty has been closely advising the national response since the start of the crisis, often travelling to the most vulnerable places inspiring and motivating frontline workers. 

His Majesty is thoroughly abreast with global crisis, including the latest developments in science and recommended protocols against Covid-19, Lyonchhen said. His Majesty has warned that waves of mutated Covid-19 could emerge every few months and that the country’s responses should also be calibrated and stepped up accordingly. 

The government has been advised to closely watch countries that have eased restrictions so that Bhutan could adopt successful measures.  Lyonchhen said the situation, even in developed countries, was not quite stable. 

His Majesty noted that most Bhutanese have received booster doses which has effectively reduced the effects of the virus. While the elderly and vulnerable adults have been vaccinated, children under 11 years remain vulnerable. His Majesty has commanded the health and foreign ministries to secure vaccines for children between 5 and 11 years.

Lyonchhen said that the vaccines would arrive on February 28 and would be distributed to all dzongkhags, with the first dose to be administered in about 10 days. The second dose would be given a few weeks later. 

Schools would resume a week after the second dose, around mid-April, Lyonchhen said. 

According to Lyonchhen, there is no better alternative than a lockdown to stop the chain of transmission. To offset the socio-economic implications His Majesty has granted kidu to those most in need. More than 52,000 people and 7,000 children have received food and money to tide over this difficult period. 

His Majesty The King is in Phuentsholing, the worst affected community in the country, having visited all the vulnerable areas along the southern border. The government and specialised task forces have been commanded to ease the situation in the town and the livelihoods of the 22,000 residents. 

An additional hospital has been established in Phuntsholing with the RIGSS’ facilities vacated and a team of 11 health professionals moved from Thimphu on February 22.