Complacency, winter and the COVID outbreak

One of the biggest questions with the outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Thimphu, Paro and other Dzongkhags is on what would have caused it.

While the exact epidemiology of the spread will be better known by the Ministry of Health’s tracing and testing teams and experts, two broad reasons immediately come to mind.

The first is complacency by the public and the second is the onset of winter.

South Korea and Japan have been held up as COVID-19 success stories.

However, recently, both the countries saw a rising number of cases despite their best efforts.

The common problem that both countries face is a rising level of complacency as a public buoyed by their success story started getting more careless. There was also a fatigue with the various restrictions and protocols

Another is winter as the cold in these countries forces people indoors in tightly enclosed spaces which is ideal for a virus.

If we think back, then we Bhutanese started taking our success for granted and we went back to normal with large numbers coming out. Facemasks also became a rarity in meetings. The health minister pointing to archery matches as spreading events should not be a surprise.

Then with winter and our poor ventilation system, our doors and windows would be shut with people in offices and other places breathing the same air, often without masks, and the virus would have spread more.

This tallies with the health minister saying that most of the cases show that they were infected between the last week of November and the first week of December.

This is the time of onset of winter in Bhutan when warmth takes priority over ventilation.

The above two factors may also explain why the virus is much more infectious this time as it got the ideal conditions to spread.

It was always inevitable that Bhutan would get community transmission but the positive is that we held it off this long under His Majesty’s leadership, and we are now better prepared to combat it.

The crucial element though will be public cooperation and not letting complacency take over again.

Success can lead to complacency, and complacency is the greatest enemy of success.
Brian Tracy

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