The Bhutanese people are on alert after the first Covid-19 positive case was reported in Bhutan on 5 March. The people living in the border towns are extra cautious and worried should the situation worsen.
The Bhutanese talked to people in Phuentsholing and some Bhutanese and locals residing in Jaigoan on how the Covid- 19 case has affected them and their business.
Jigme Sonam, a computer technician atPbinfotech, said, “Electronics prices have increased due to supply issues and we don’t have much customers this week. Before this, we used to be extremely busy with the rush of customers to the point, we would be working during lunch hours. Probably because in the border areas, people are more concerned. Personally, we are bored with the lack of work. Laptop repairs have been delayed since electronic parts are not available anymore nearby. None of the medical shops had stock on safety equipment when some of us last checked.”
IT Plaza and NEC Restaurant proprietor, SuchitaHumagai,stated, “These are hard times for the entire economy, and particularly more on us who are operating business in border areas. We are more susceptible to contact with our neighboring country who have reported concerning number of cases. We had a hard time convincing employees to perform and empathize with us during such times as we generally rely on working capital for most of our allowance funds. Currently, we have only a handful of employees at the restaurant and others have been given leave until the government indicates a green light.In terms of electronic equipment, we are secured on supply since we have trusted long-terms supply partners, however, the decrease in the movement of people in the town is certainly concerning.”
USD training institute faculty, Pema Jambay, said, “The admission has dropped and it is quite evident following that a lot of institutions and schools are currently closed. We are also cautious on a personal note and are trying our best to avoid gatherings and moving frequently. Some shops are having to wait all day for a single customer and those places where I would usually see a lot of people have drastically dried up following this Coronavirus news.”
Bal Chhetri, an employee at a factory in Pasakha, said, “Security checks are going on at daily basis to detect fever or other underlying symptoms. So far, I am assured by the government’s word that the equipment are top-grade.The factory works are going on as usual but as precautionary measures like sanitizers are kept at entry points at all factories around Pasakha.”
Druk Institute of Management & Technology proprietor, Ramesh Humagai, said, “It is concerning for us since education hubs are a place where gatherings are mandatory and unlike other countries, we do not have the resources yet to establish online training systems, neither we can confirm if such a system would be effective with our students, should the virus spread continue. Currently, we are closed for another week but talking to some parents, we came to know that they are going to delay admissions until the situation is contained. We only have one positive case for now and that is somewhat comforting, however, we have Bhutanese students residing in Jaigoan and if cases break out there, it would be troublesome.”
Tashi Wangchuk, Transformer Gymnasium Trainer, said, “I believe that to be protected from any kind of immune related virus or other health issues, we should do exercises and keep a track of our daily balanced diet. Here at Phuentsholing, the number of moving vehicles and people have reduced compared to last few weeks- could be because of the fear of Coronavirus transmission. Just my personal view, I feel that the situation could be a devised strategy by the Chinese government trying to threaten the world with bioweapon for a political dominance of some sort.”
N.B Rai, a taxi driver in Jaigoan, said, “Most people here have been living lives as usual, shops are open and the movement of people and vehicles haven’t changed. We do not have a reason to panic since no case has been reported here in Jaigoan.”