The embankment is under pressure from the rising water level. It could be breached anytime. What we need is reinforcement and continuous vigil if we are to prevent an outburst. This is not a tsunami, but the imagery of how the country is trying to prevent a catastrophe from the increasing risk of Covid-19.
The pressure now is from all sides. In the south, we have Phuentsholing and Samtse that are trying hard to prevent a breach. In the north and east, it is the mobile highlanders that have now become vulnerable. If we are not cautious, it is a matter of when and not if for us to see a repeat of what is happening at our doorstep.
We can prevent it. With wise leadership at the helm, we had put every measure in place to prevent a second wave that is now considered and proven to be more deadly and calamitous. Considering the risk, there is no stone left unturned at least in terms of leadership and guidance. His Majesty The King had spent most of his time along the southern borders overseeing and providing the much-needed leadership in containing a deadly wave that has taken our neighbours by surprise and has gone out of control.
The risk is real. Even with all the measures, cases are being reported from Samtse to Phuentsholing to Samdrupjongkhar. The isolated highlands of Merak, which many thought was the safe haven during a pandemic, surprised us. Even as we write this, the most unexpected places in the country are under lockdown. From Merak to Jomotshangkha and places many Bhutanese have not heard are put under strict lockdown.
More and more people are testing positive in the east and in Phuentsholing. As of yesterday, 16 people tested positive in a place that many are hearing for the first time, in Khashiteng chiwog under Merak gewog. This just shows how vulnerable we are in a pandemic time.
Going by the reports, some of our initiatives to prevent the virus from spreading are becoming the source of transmissions. In Samdrupjongkhar, poor compliance of protocol led to a community transmission. Four hotel management members tested positive on April 26. Soon after, 13 primary contacts tested positive.
Thimphu nearly had to impose a lockdown after some quarantine hotel staff breached strict protocol and tested positive. Quarantine centres, it seems, are becoming the source of rising cases. While there is no time for blame game, we need to plug the loopholes. A report on the rising cases in Samdrupjongkhar found out that there were lapses at the quarantine centres.
The hotels used as quarantine facilities are believed to be well protected. There is the confidence that cases detected from the quarantine hotels are of no harm. However, if we are letting our guards down and let the virus out of the comfort and walls of the hotels, we are in big trouble. It is like locking the door with the thief inside the house. Visiting quarantine or their premise is strictly prohibited by law. Those who come near even if in the line of duty are punished. The risk is higher as some hotels are hosting returnees from high-risk areas, like India, where a new variant that is more infectious is causing havoc.
The threat has become real. It can be anytime, even tomorrow. While many of us have the luxury of living normal lives and only sympathize with our people along the borders, we should be equally concerned. We are quick to share the Kupar of His Majesty on the frontline, write eulogies and then forget our basic responsibilities of wearing a facemask or adhering to rules.
The greatest contribution to the nation during a pandemic is being a good citizen by following rules, fulfilling our responsibilities, big or small, and drawing strength from our exemplary leadership. This could help.