From the information available, it is now becoming clear that China may have suppressed information on the virus for up to 15 days, by which a large number of people left the affected areas of Hubei province and Wuhan city for the new year holidays for the rest of China and even the rest of the world.
This explains the massive spread of the virus in China within a short period and also its spread around the world at an alarming rate.
Though the Corona virus is less deadly then its SARS cousin, it makes up for in its longer duration of incubation of up to two weeks which means that a patient does not exhibit symptoms but would be spreading the virus in that time period.
This also means that airport body sensors and hand held temperature devices cannot detect a carrier in the early stages.
For Bhutan, it is decision time as the peak tourist season is on the door step. This is because in 2018 Chinese tourists were the second largest group of tariff paying tourists after USA.
There are increasing calls to stop the entry of Chinese tourists, and this call must be taken seriously by the government. Bhutan would not be alone, but it would be joining an increasing list of countries doing the same across the world.
More importantly, most of the cases are in China with 20,438 cases and 425 deaths. The rest of the two dozen countries have around 185 cases. This means that the virus is quite widespread in China and is claiming lives there.
There may be resistance from the tourism industry, but no amount of revenue can compensate for the health of our children and family members.
Also, the WHO’s main worry outside China is if the virus spreads to countries with relatively weaker health systems and lesser resources -and Bhutan would qualify on both counts.
‘A stich in time saves nine’