Individuals should be responsible and practise COVID-19 protocols properly, says Health Minister

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection in winter season in the country, Health Minister, Dechen Wangmo said it is individual responsibilities to strictly enforce the COVID-19 guidelines.

Lyonpo said this while reviewing the prevailing corona situation in the world. “We should remain on alert form in order to avoid the COVID-19 situation being serious in the country,” she said adding, there should be no relaxation in implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines even as less positive cases are reported.

She added at this stage, when the COVID-19 second wave has already hit places on several European countries. “We have to adhere to the guideline like mandatory facemask wearing, maintain social distance and hand washing in order to avoid the second wave as well as possible lockdown like situation,” Lyonpo said.

The Health Minister said it is necessary to educate the public COVID-19 norms. “Government responsibility is to test the people, keep the infrastructures ready and manage the COVID-19 situation. But it is individual responsibilities to make proper use of mask and avoid gatherings,” she said.

“Currently, the second wave of COVID-19 transmission happening around the world is primarily due to close contact, not following the COVID norms and others strictly,” Lyonpo added.

The government is turning its focus on precautionary measures that need to be continued to avoid a second wave of COVID-19, Lyonpo said. “So, we urge people not to assume that the corona virus threat no longer exists, any negligence in observing precautions will lead to a surge in cases.”

Moreover, Lyonpo said individual must be responsible and focus on proper wearing of masks, and not about wearing facemasks. “People should follow the protocols strictly as the second wave COVID cases spiked up due to complacent in COVID-19 protocols, large gatherings and more travel without wearing facemasks,” Lyonpo added everyone should be responsible to avoid such cases in the country.

“Everyone should now focus on quality and how you wear is critical aspect of wearing facemasks,” Lyonpo said adding, in 18-37 years age group, 21% would require intensive care, 10% would require mechanical ventilators and 3% deaths according to health experts. “Do not underestimate the virulence of the disease.”

Lyonpo said. “Our Gyenkhu is the primary indication and we hope this will be some sort of movement to advocate people on being more responsible towards COVID protocols.

However, Lyonpo said, “We cannot go and put facemask on an individual, so it solely depends on the individuals to be more cautious and responsible.”

Lyonpo said washing hands frequently with soap and water is one of the best preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19. Using facemask is mandatory and if one is using a cloth mask, then it should be washed everyday with soap or detergent and dry it in the sun.

Since tomorrow is descending day of Lord Buddha and also the funerary rites of late Je Thrizur, Ministry of Health (MoH) urges everyone to wear facemask and practice physical distancing in crowded places or while visiting holy sites. However, the ministry strongly recommends everyone to stay home, carry and use a personal hand sanitizer or wash hands frequently with soap and water while going outside.

The ministry also urges everyone to make use of Druk Trace App or the visitor’s logbook at all times.

Sonam Tashi from Thimphu