Thimphu residents had never been scared of Covid-19 as they are today. With close to 20 testing positive in the core city as of yesterday, and more contacts being traced and tested, the fear is of a full-blown local transmission.
The capital’s residents have now understood the real threat of the pandemic. Many primary contacts have been all over the city without the slightest idea that they were spreading the virus. This means we could, unfortunately, expect more cases.
The health ministry in its effort to contain the disease has launched a massive trace and test campaign with more than 2,500 people all over the country already traced and tested. The disease is in the community. How bad it would be will depend on how people cooperate with health officials and others in the fight against the invisible enemy.
Some are hitting the panic button. That will not help. Both the prime minister and the health minister are pleading with the people to cooperate. The pleas are simple. One is asking people to stay home during the lockdown. The other is to come report to the nearest flu clinic if there are any symptoms. The symptoms are similar to that of the common flu.
If we couldn’t help by being complacent, we could now in stopping a local pandemic. The easiest way is to report any flu-like symptoms. Last night, the health minister called on all Bhutanese to report to the nearest health facility if they have flu-like symptoms.
Two more flu clinics are set up in the capital, one at Taba and the other at Olakha to facilitate screening for Covid-19. If it is just the common influenza, we could go home straight. If it turns out to be Covid-19, we could save ourselves and the community and then the country that is already stretched for resources.
What is more encouraging is that we have not reported a single death case because of coronavirus. More than 467 contracted the disease since March. 429 have recovered and we have not heard of anyone put on ventilators or in the intensive care unit since the lone patient with underlying health conditions in March. It is even easier if detected at an early stage.
Those without underlying health conditions and in good health or young recover without any treatment. Those who contracted the disease and spent days in isolation say that the only problem is boredom. There is no reason to hide your travel history or not do the test.
We have come together to prevent the pandemic even when we had just a few cases. The risk today is about a full-blown community transmission. We need to come together strongly this time. This includes respecting the lockdown protocols and following the safety measures.