A second wave and what is at stake

Given our extensive measures and preparations between March 2020 and August 2020, very few Bhutanese would have though that COVID-19 would spread by local transmission in Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar.

The detection of antibodies in the mass tests also showed that the virus had been circulating in these places.

However, given our early preparation and measures under the leadership of His Majesty this major threat could be contained after a month-long national lockdown, mass testing and other measures.

With winter coming and a vaccine still a distance away COVID-19 is rearing its ugly head in a massive second wave that is most visible in USA and Europe with new record high cases and also a growing mortality rate.

Closer home, India is entering the festive season especially in our neighboring states where cases are expected to spike.

To add to this, winter will mean that our natural border barriers which are swollen rivers and steams will no longer be there.

Going by past history, it is around this time that people cross the international border into Bhutan along the border for grazing, wood collection, illegal stone and sand collection, picnics and other reasons.

Meanwhile, within Bhutan, there is a growing and huge sense of complacency among the people and also a sense of fatigue following the COVID protocol.

To add to this, given our economic compulsions, we have started importing in larger numbers of foreign workers following COVID-19 protocol. There are also efforts to normalize trade and industry.

To avoid a lost generation, all schools will be opened early next year.

If you add up all of the above, we have two choices now.

One is to throw caution to the wind and see local and community transmission and thereby risk lives, health, education of our children, the economy and jobs and a lot of pain.

The other option is to keep up our guard and ride out the second wave while enjoying the benefits of sending our kids to school, reviving our economy and jobs and most importantly protecting Bhutanese lives and health, until we get a vaccine.

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
Albert Einstein

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