‘I don’t see a national lockdown happening’: PM

One main question and worry at the top of many Bhutanese minds will be on if and when there would be a national lockdown, like neighboring India or other countries across the world.

However, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that this scenario is highly unlikely even if there is local transmission.

“I will resist a national lockdown and this is not something that His Majesty wants too. Now, I don’t see the chance at all for a national lockdown,” said Lyonchhen.

He explained that any lockdown can be sectoral or regional in nature in case of outbreaks like locking down specific affected areas like like Thimphu city, Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Punatsangchu, Pasakha etc.

“There can be lockdown as soon as a case is detected and we do what we have to do. A lockdown has components. Just a lockdown and restriction of movement does not make any sense,” he said.

“It is not enough that there is a case but from the moment that there is a case we do contact tracing from the next minute. Suddenly we know that that guy has not been out of Thimphu then there is a lock down in Thimphu as it is within Thimphu.  If he came from Phuentsholing yesterday, then Thimphu locking down does not make a lot of sense. We need to strategize this and it is already there actually,” added Lyonchhen.

He said that Bhutan does not benefit from a nationwide lockdown and it will be valley wise at the most.

“And even lock lockdowns will be for a week or two until the MoH surveillance can identify and pick up the positives,” said Lyonchhen.

The PM, however, did not completely rule out a national lockdown.

“You also cannot say there will not be a national lockdown as it is too early to assume, but practically I don’t see that happening,” said the PM.

“For us to benefit from COVID-19, it is not through a national lockdown,” said the PM.

He said India had to go in for a lockdown as there has no other option and it was the best way for them.

The PM said that in New York the curve is quite high but even if Bhutan gets local transmission the curve will be much flatter or low and the duration will be long.

“If we are to handle six cases of community transmission in six months then that is not a problem for us at all and it is as good as no community transmission,” said the PM.

“We are already very comfortable even if we get community transmission and it will stay like this. People are aware, system is ready and health preparedness is fully up and about,” added Lyonchhen.

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