Welcoming our folks home

With the three-week mandatory quarantine period over, hundreds of people are returning or have returned home, to their village, towns and communities. The number will increase in the next few days.

After having confined for three-weeks in a hotel room, no matter how comfortable and without visitors except for the frontliners in PPE, these people had longed to go home to their parents, children and loved ones with excitement and a lot of stories to share. They will be welcomed.

However, there is a fear in some of them of getting sidelined, ignored and worse, discriminated for having been quarantined. There is a misconception that people were quarantined because they were suspected to be the carrier of the virus. This is a result of misinformation, lack of understanding or sheer ignorance.

We have not heard, unlike in other countries, stories of house owners not letting their tenants back or how people are mistreated. But there is a concern among some. Most probably out of lack of understanding, some are calling on the government, albeit on social media, to stop evacuating Bhutanese stranded aboard. They fear they will bring the virus.

Some hoteliers are worried not because they have offered their property as quarantine facility, but the rumours people are spreading. A hotelier said that even his relatives started telling him to stop visiting them for a while. Hoteliers are not in direct touch with the occupants. There are health professionals tending to those quarantined. Besides, like the health ministry is saying, not all the people in quarantine have the virus. They are protecting all of us by staying in.

The number of people getting discharged is a good evidence to convince doubters. On Wednesday alone, more than 300 were discharged. None showed the slightest sign of being affected. Then there are those who are recovering well or recovered even after testing positive. In our case, apart from the 76-year-old American, the rest didn’t even need special treatment. They started testing negative to the virus.

Many in quarantine are sharing their experience, thanking the government and some are even concerned of the escalating cost to the government. Those who got the virus are sharing their stories to encourage people and trying to dispel their dreadful thoughts.

If ever we want to talk about them, we should be thanking them for cooperating with the health ministry and the government. Most of them are students who after months and some even years are coming back to their parents only to stay in a closed hotel room. Some are escorts on medical trip with their sick parents and one had lost a parent while in quarantine and stayed back understanding the importance.

The health ministry is urging the public to not discriminate those getting discharged. They are allowed to leave the facilities based on medical and clinical evidence.

If we should ever worry, we should be concerned of people who jump quarantine. The community who are scared could come together and help the government in finding them. Or even better, they should help the government spread the important message of physical distancing, washing hands and staying clean.

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