Many impatient and anxious residents of Thimphu, who were impatiently waiting for the board exams to end on March 12, vented their frustration and disappointment on social media when the government issued a press release on the “New Phase of Covid-19 Management” last Saturday, enforcing the current movement restriction for almost another month.
According to the government’s announcement earlier, the movement restriction in Thimphu’s mega-zones will not be fully lifted until April 4 and the movement of private vehicles will be allowed. Another week later, from April 11, all offices can be fully functional again.
The government’s announcement was called irrational and illogical by many, who instead called on the government to lift the current restrictions. The scenario of increasing cases of Covid-19 in Thimphu and some other places was also used by some to highlight the ineffectiveness of the lockdown.
They say that Covid-19 cases are increasing day by day even though the lockdown has been in place for almost two months, and that the continuation of the restriction will only affect the lives and livelihoods of people living on daily wages, running small businesses, and working in the private sector.
It is therefore reasonable for the government to also consider whether a lockdown has been effective in our current fight against Covid-19. There is no denying that interdiction, when it was first imposed, was effective in curbing transmission of the virus. What we do not yet know, however, is why we are unable to contain the disease despite the interdiction. Should not other methods or strategies be explored instead of continuing to rely on lockdowns?
And are there other ways to combat the virus besides lockdowns?
There is no denying that the number of Covid-19 cases is increasing day by day despite the lockdown that has been imposed for almost two months. But we also cannot rule out the possibility that the number of cases we have seen in the last few days of movement restriction is also due to the lockdown. There is also the possibility that the number of Covid-19 cases that we are seeing would have increased many times over if the lockdown had not been in place.
There are also voices that think we should do away with lockdowns and quarantine systems, as many European countries are doing. Even countries in Southeast Asia are following suit. But is it worth the risk?
After Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in recent weeks, Covid cases in the UK are still very high and increasing in older age groups. In addition, various parts of China have been partially or completely sealed off due to a rise in Covid-19 cases. But again for us, is it worth the risk?