Learning from the recent lockdown

In what has been a relief for many in Thimphu, the capital city saw the third lockdown being lifted on Monday afternoon after all possibilities of Covid-19 disease presence in the capital were ruled out.

The third lockdown, meanwhile, was imposed in Thimphu from 6pm onwards on June 12 to prevent the spread of Covid-19 disease after strong indications of disease in the community.

As talks about the lockdown spread late on the evening of June 12 and with the health minister’s validation of the same on BBS TV, the same old scenes of people getting into panic-buying mode were ostensible in and outside the many grocery stores and the vegetable market in Thimphu.

Such signs, therefore, also tell us how many times we should be told to do what we ought to. This also tells us that many of us are least prepared despite being told to be so, many times and through many mediums. Even before this lockdown, the Prime Minister has been explicit about the lockdowns and has continuously been admonishing people that a future lockdown could happen anytime until the pandemic status of Covid-19 status existed and that it was not something that could be pre-planned.

“People should be prepared for this and if they are not, they will never be prepared for anything in life,” the PM had then said.

However, going by the scenes that were unfurling in and outside the shops on the evening of June 12, the scenes and sights show hardly any indication of preparedness among the people.

Another lesson we can learn from the recent lockdown is how to avert the sort of problems that we saw on the highways as the roads in and around the capital were jammed for hours. While it was because of those returning to their homes and destinations immediately after the lockdown announcement or those thronging the town for last-minute buying, we must start preparing how to ensure and facilitate smooth movement of people and vehicles should there be any similar lockdown in the future.

Another reminder from the lockdown is also about taking note of the timing of the lockdown imposition. That sort of traffic woes and mad rush that we saw on the evening of June 12 would have been perhaps averted if, for example, the lockdown had been imposed later or after 9pm. By that time, shops and markets would have been already closed and people by then would have been at their homes.

Another reminder from this lockdown is also the imperativeness to assess the Covid-19 safety measures and protocols in our schools and examine their preparedness level so that adequate measures can be put in place accordingly. We cannot leave everything to luck every time.