Ask Phuentsholing residents

Tashi Dema

People residing in the southern dzongkhags, especially Phuentsholing, are pouring out their frustrations and accusing the health ministry and national Covid-19 task force for preferential treatment to Thimphu.

Phuentsholing residents are wondering why Phuentsholing is also not opening up after identifying red clusters and red buildings like it is being done in the capital city. Phuentsholing was under lockdown for nearly four months last year.

“The Covid-19 protocol is different in many dzongkhags from Phuentsholing. A blanket lockdown is implemented herethe moment there is a positive case,” a resident said. Residents said poor people are suffering and some are even facing difficulty feeding their families.

“Many people here are living off the Royal kidu. Some are into domestic violence and depression,” a resident said. “No one is looking into our problems.”

Some are even alleging that the lockdown was lifted in Thimphu and smart lockdown is being implemented because all the elites, including the politicians and ministers, reside in Thimphu.

Another expressed frustration of how they are treated differently. “In Thimphu, officials segregated residents with viruses and lifted the lockdown within a month whereas everyone here is kept under lockdown.”

A corporate employee in Phuentsholing said everyone is doing their part in Phuentsholing, but what is missing is the right intervention from the government.

“I don’t understand why Phuentsholing is treated differently. One community case can close down the whole town, but that doesn’t happen in Thimphu,” he asked.

He said they hear of many community cases emerging from Thimphu, but not lockdown. “I heard an expecting mother, who visited the hospital tested positive. Another one from Kabisa also tested positive. We heard some tested positive from the flu clinic and RAPA too, but there is no lockdown.”

The father of one said many in Phuentsholing are daily wage earners and surviving on small businesses. “Big businesses in Pasakha are allowed to operate and small businesses are shut down.”

He said residents have to pay house and shop rents. “Many here have forgotten the taste of fresh vegetables and smell of doma.”

People are also questioning why the government and media are not giving details of positive cases in Phuentsholing and Wangduephodrang like it is being done in Thimphu.

While Kuensel is yet to hear from the health ministry on smart lockdown, members of the national Covid-19 technical advisory group, who came live on the national television on February 17, explained that to impose lockdown they investigate the positive cases and if they identify all contacts, they do not impose lockdown.

They also said a large number of samples collected and tested from places like Wangdue and Phuentsholing hinders the health ministry from providing details of the positive cases.

They said that they would now be mindful and provide information of other dzongkhags.

Meanwhile, Phuentsholing detected 347 cases yesterday, the highest so far. Out of that  338 cases were from the community.