The last three weeks has seen a ballooning of community transmission cases in Bhutan starting from some local transmission in the Mini Dry Port in Phuentsholing and then continuing with community transmission being discovered in Phuentsholing.
The Ministry of Health’s technical experts may take time to come up with an appropriate technical definition but, by now, it is clear that these are not imported cases found positive in quarantine and are instead found in the community surveillance; the source of the infection is not clear; and the numbers are large and growing.
These all fit the profile of community transmission even though it is not a full blown one and restricted to Phuentsholing.
The Health Minister in the past made it clear that it is inevitable that community transmission will come to Bhutan and it is finally here.
His Majesty bought valuable time for Bhutan by delaying the arrival of the virus through important leadership, and even though the community spread has come, Bhutan is much better placed and prepared to tackle it than its many neighbors in the region.
The national lockdown followed by aggressive testing and contract tracing is the right strategy.
However, this is the most crucial time for ordinary citizens to step up. There is already some grumbling on the length of the lockdown or even its need and various excuses are coming up.
While most of us cannot serve our country like Dessups and other frontline workers and volunteers, the least we can do is to stay indoors and follow the health protocols for our own safety.
Well before the lockdown, the Health Ministry put out many messages advocating the use of facemasks and maintaining social distancing, but most ordinary people did not follow it, including senior officials.
Our community spread would be even lesser if such guidelines were followed.
There is understandable anger on the high number of cases among DANTAK and IMTRAT officials and both agencies need to do much better in the COVID-19 fight.
While the MoH minister pointed out both the above agencies followed the quarantine, lockdown and testing protocols, both these agencies have clearly not been vigilant enough within their own compounds.
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
John F. Kennedy
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