Staying prepared

Our only COVID-19 patient may have been airlifted out of the country on Friday, but the challenges for Bhutan will not end and may in fact get tougher.

The WHO has declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic which is a recognition of the reality if its spread to over 150 countries and territories and the increasing case load in many countries, including in some of the most advanced countries of the west.

Bhutan is lucky in that we, like in the past, can learn from the mistakes of others and take our own nimble steps.

The government, for now, has made the right move in stopping tourism given that our tourism markets are anyhow down due to travel advisories and visa restrictions of regional transport hubs like Delhi and Kathmandu. So it does not make sense to take a huge risk to just get a trickle of tourists.

Also, our traditional tourist markets like USA, EU, China and others have high case loads and we would be taking an unnecessary risk.

A big lesson to learn from others is that governments and societies that have practiced social distancing and cancellations of events coupled with aggressive testing and tracking have done well.

The challenge no longer is just about stopping the virus at your borders but what you do once it enters Bhutan.

In that sense our first COVID-19 case taught as many lessons and will equip is to handle future possible cases.

We have to be prepared for the worst given the spread of the COVID-19 all over the world, and now its gradual spread in India which is our largest trading partner.

At a moment like this all agencies should work together in coordination and there is simply no space for slip ups.

In that sense it is a major relief that His Majesty The King is playing an important role in leading and coordinating our COVID-19 response from behind the scenes.

A stich in time saves nine
Francis Baily

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