A couple in Bongo Gewog

Dzongkhags and rural areas are having a smoother time with the lockdown

Though supply of essential goods and vegetables in the capital are challenging, the supply of the same is going smoothly in rural areas during the lockdown. The lockdown did not impact people as much in the villages as most of the vegetables are harvested by them on their own and since they are allowed to do their daily farming as usual, but following lockdown protocols.

In remote Dzongkhags, vegetables were supplied door to door for civil servants and for those who are in towns running businesses.

People were deployed in duty in every gewogs, except in few far flung villages where they do not see the need of monitoring and as people were cooperative.

Chukha Thrizin Tshering Nidup said that they are able to manage the lockdown without any issue as they were well prepared from before and they have contingency plans in place.

“There are 36 members in our taskforce and we had planned on how to give immediate medical services and on how to distribute essentials items to each household. We also appointed core members who are assigned with responsibility for each area,” he added.

Before the lockdown, they identified shops that have essential goods in stock and also identified vehicles who will supply the goods. To make the services easily available to the people, they advertised the emergency numbers and on how to avail the services in the local TV channel.

“So far, we have not come across any issue and everything is going as per our plan. For far flung villages, we have stocked up goods in nearby FCB’s and from there we are supplying. We have volunteer vehicles for the services,” he said.

Challenges are expected in such time as the country have not experienced lockdown until now, he said, adding that whatever issues they have come across, they have solved it by holding taskforce meetings immediately.

Paro Thrizin Tshering Dorji said that every gewog under the Dzongkhag is monitoring the lockdown as per the developed SOP’s and all the essential items are supplied through identified suppliers. “We have duties from police and desuups and we have local volunteers who guide them through every nook and corner of the gewog,” he said.

For far flung areas like Yaktsha and Nubri they have stocked up essential items for six months and therefore they are very relaxed. He said with both the places being one day’s walk from the road point, they do not need close monitoring as everyone there stays far from each other.

He said, “We have not come across any issue, except for some who came requesting us to allow them to travel back to their home town and people demanding a lot of things which we sometimes fail to fulfill.”

Some places in Paro are declared as alert zone due to the five cases and they are in the process of contact tracing. It is not that those are declared as red zone areas where no movement will be allowed at all, he said.

Pemagatshel Thrizin Pema Dorji said that they are following the lockdown as per the directives from the health ministry and though people are allowed to go and work in fields, people stay in-door with the spread of the virus. It is time to collect ferns but none were seen going.

They have all the plans ready if they happen to have any community transmission. For now everything is going well, he added. “The Dzongkhag sends the essential goods to gewogs and the gewog leader sends it to the respective Tshogpa through whom goods are being distributed to the people,” he added.

However, he said, “Dealing with someone’s death has become an issue at such a time. No gathering is allowed but cremation and rituals have to be carried out. We have requested Dzongkhag and taskforce to see the possibility into doing it without having any outsiders involved.”

“People are not able to sell their dairy products for which they have stocked up for now. We have put up the matter to Dzongkhag and they have allowed operating the MPU as usual and this way we are hoping that we will be able to sell,” he said.

Samtse Thrizin Nima Dukpa said, “We have a lockdown contingency plan and we have been preparing this plan for the past two months. The plan includes how to supply essential goods and on how to work with stranded people. Accordingly we are monitoring lockdown at the gewog level.”

He said that they have stocked up all the necessary items but they are not able to fulfill all the demands made by people. However, they are trying to supply as demanded asking from retailers and FCB.

“Few people are hording whereby people who can afford gets a lot and people who cannot are left with very minimal stock. Nevertheless, we are controlling hording as far as possible,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tshogpa Dawa Gyelmo of Lobneykha chiwog under Chapcha gewog said that during the first and second day of lockdown no people were allowed to come out of house, however after an announcement by the government, they were allowed to go out to work in their own fields following lockdown protocol.

“No one is allowed to go around and with the help of two desuups, we are guarding the entrance from the highway so to not have any person entering our chiwog. Essential goods are supplied as per the protocol and there were no issues during the lockdown as of now,” she added.

People are well aware of the lockdown and they were cooperative though it was difficult to implement on the first day, she said.

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