Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Sampheling and Phuentsholing gewogs in Chukha are considered vulnerable to Covid-19 outbreak due to the porous international border and proximity with Phuentsholing town, but the gewogs did not have any positive cases until now.

Gewog officials attribute the success to a centralised management system where villagers volunteer to take up surveillance responsibilities.

In Sampheling gewog, gewog officials have started a system called Covid-19 guard where households in six vulnerable villages have signed an undertaking to take responsibility at individual level.

Sampheling gewog administration officer (GAO), Passang Dorji, said the head of the household takes the responsibility of the entire family.

“We have signed an agreement,” he said.

“Even shops and tenants living in the villages have signed the agreement.”

He explained the undertaking mandates people to follow all Covid-19 prevention norms.

“Villages like Kothiline, Pana A, B, and C not only share porous borders with India, but the borders are quite open. The risks are huge. But not a single positive case has been reported.”

Passang Dorji also said the surveillance system was initiated last year after a series of meetings and consultations with the people.

“Dzongdag, police SP, and taskforce representatives were also present,” he said. 

He said people were sensitised on government and public responsibilities.

Passang Dorji said Sampheling villagers have also been contributing all the labour works required for any construction purposes in tackling the Covid-19.

He said there is another group called “village volunteer,” who volunteers along with security personnel and de-suups in different areas.

Phuentsholing gewog also practices the same Covid-19 guard system. Villagers have signed the agreement.

As it shares close proximity with Phuentsholing town from Toorsa, there are about 36 such village volunteers.

Phuentsholing GAO, Tenzin, said the village volunteers ensure there are no mass or public gatherings.

“They also monitor the Covid-19 protocols. Most importantly, they ensure that the prevention and preparedness initiatives reach the people.”

Village volunteers also ensured people followed home quarantine in the villages during the lockdown.

Tenzin said they make sure that  those who come to the villages from Phuentsholing are home quarantined.

“The volunteers also guard the entry points along with de-suups.”

These days, about hundred people visit Phuentsholing town on a daily basis. Tenzin said that no cases have been reported from the gewog because when villagers return home, everything is monitored.

“People even inform if their own relatives enter the gewog through routes in the jungle.”

Phuentsholing gup Birkha Bahadur Rai said his team and public are collectively working in preventing the Covid-19.

“Public is  supportive. We will not let Covid-19 to enter our gewog.”

Edited by Tashi Dema