Thimphu was going to face another lockdown the way we had begun to take Covid-19 threats lightly. And it came Saturday evening after an eight-year-old boy tested positive on antigen test. Health officials and frontline workers launched contact tracing and testing swiftly in the zones. In case of more positive cases from the communities, which is now highly likely, we are in for a long and extended lockdown.

Surrendering our little freedom to lockdown is never easy. We know this from the past experiences but we must also deal with the problems that we created for ourselves. Even after long and constant endeavour to study the causes and the nature of the virus, we are yet to get our finger on it completely. From the little that we know, however, lockdowns have been found to be the most effective measure—disruptions besides—to contain the virus and its many strains from further spreading.

As we wait for the second mass vaccination programme, our best weapon to fight the virus is stringent health protocols. What we know is that even the second dose will not protect us fully from the virus. In schools, where the danger of community spread is high, safety measures cannot be compromised. Otherwise, schools can easily become transmission hotspots.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said last week more than 90 percent of children were in schools and that an outbreak in schools could be “very dangerous”. A positive antigen case that led to 72-hour lockdown in the capital was indeed from a school. We also know that protecting children from the virus remains a challenge for the education ministry. Efforts are being made to strengthen health and safety protocols in schools but clearly more needs to be done.

Because of the fast-spreading nature of the Delta variant and a lot more that we still do not know about the virus, there is a need for us to be stringent with safety measures and standards, by a very long shot. A lot, however, will depend on personal initiative. Breaching lockdown rules will put not only yourself in difficult circumstances, but also others in the community which can put tremendous pressure on our small health system.

The thing to remember is that we are facing a new challenge that is more dangerous than the ones we have seen and experienced.