Beginning of another episode?

Much to our dismay or disliking, the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 has arrived in the country.

The Royal Center for Disease Control reportedly confirmed on Thursday that representative RT-PCR positive samples collected from the various quarantine facilities in Thimphu, Wangdue, Phuentsholing, Paro, and including the recent community case from Phuentsholing as Omicron variant.

While this confirmation is likely new for us, the Omicron variant is spreading more quickly than other variants that people around the world are concerned about as it has now spread to around 89 countries.

Further, where there is Covid-19 transmission in the community, the World Health Organizations (WHO) believes that the Omicron will outpace the Delta variant.

Meanwhile, what is assuring for us is going by the statement made by Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering on December 31, 2021 that the Omicron might reach Bhutan, but will not have much impact on us.

The Prime Minister meant that as long as the incubation period does not change, it (whatever variant of the Covid-19 it may be) cannot affect the Bhutanese people as the virus can be detected in the quarantine given the strict quarantine norms.

Going by the Covid-19 situation in the country, the health ministry announced on Thursday about detecting 36 new cases in the last 24 hours. However, all the cases were from the quarantine facilities, except for a health worker (reported positive while on duty at the isolation facility).

Similarly, the health ministry announced on Wednesday about detecting seven new cases in the last 24 hours and all the cases were from the quarantine facilities. It’s, therefore, justifiable to say that one main reason that has helped us in the early detection and control of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country is because of the quarantine norms.

Once when the situation along the border had improved, the government was even put under pressure to lift the seven-day mandatory quarantine protocol and many also questioned the rationale behind not lifting the quarantine protocol. Going by the situation today, the government must be commended for remaining affirmed until now on the seven-day mandatory quarantine for those traveling from high-risk to low-risk areas.

Another sensible thing against the Omicron is that we have rolled out the Covid-19 booster dose for priority groups from December 24 to December 31 last year; similar to what many rich countries have done as it is reportedly known to be the most important defense against the Omicron.

With new cases of the Omicron variant being detected in the country, one thing for sure is that the pandemic is not over yet. Rather than an end, it appears as if it is just the beginning of another new episode as we continue our relentless fight against the Covid-19.