The initially positive and later negative result of a shop keeper in Jomotsangkha kept the nation on tenterhooks, because any confirmation would mean the possible presence of community transmission in Bhutan.
The nation, for a moment, was reminded of the incredibly high price that we have to pay for any carelessness at a time when Bhutanese are increasingly becoming complacent, even as regional and international cases keep increasing.
His Majesty has already reminded the nation of how even the carelessness of one person along the border can bring the virus in and wreck havoc.
While the international situation is still largely grim, the absence of any local cases in Bhutan so far has led to people crowding public places and becoming more careless by the day.
The still ongoing cases of smuggling and movement across the international border show that people are not serious enough.
Youth having a party in the quarantine center and various other violations show that people are not only losing their fear but are becoming reckless.
Due to the leadership and foresight shown by His Majesty, Bhutan has been incredibly lucky to avoid any case of community transmission so far.
However, once community transmission does come to Bhutan, it will not be a picnic in the park.
Our already strained health system will be stretched and any chances of making an early economic recovery will have to be abandoned.
Community transmission, once it takes off, is extremely difficult to reverse with the only hope being that numbers do not increase exponentially.
As this paper has said before, we must do everything in our power to delay the onset of community or local transmission in Bhutan until there is an effective cure or vaccine.
We are lucky that India has decided to extend its lockdown by two more weeks as this will give us some breathing space to better prepare along the southern borders.
The extension of the lockdown in India will also have an impact on the Bhutanese economy and certain supplies like non-essential goods, but this is a price worth paying.
The Jomotsangkha scare is an important reminder to us, and henceforth we must again redouble or efforts in social distancing, securing the border and taking all other precautions.
“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
H. Jackson Brown Jr