No other option than lockdown: PM

While the government is aware of the economic impacts of the virus, there is no other option than lockdown, says the PM

Hundreds of people have taken to social media to request the government to end imposing lockdown given the economic problems they confront and some have even suggested measures like ‘Living with the Virus’ that have been adopted by the United Kingdom. 

However, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, during a live session on BBS on February 21, stated that if lockdown is lifted then the medical capacity will collapse. 

The PM warned that even if Bhutan receives 100 to 200 patients, it would be difficult because the country lacks the medical capability to accompany everyone. 

Lyonchhen added that the government is aware of the economic impacts of the virus, but as children aged five to 11 years are not vaccinated, there is no other option than lockdown.

 After nearly a month-long lockdown in Thimphu and other districts, the lockdown in Thimphu was lifted on February 14 after many rounds of mass testing.

However, people were once again taken aback by the notification from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), announcing restrictions again beginning at 5 am from February 22, after five cases of Covid-19 were reported in Thimphu. Of the five, two were from Babesa and Norzin Lam, and one from Kabesa.

Meanwhile, many, who resorted to social media to voice out their grievances are particularly daily wage earners, say that they were losing their patience as a result of the prolonged lockdown.

They say that people who work in private companies, small businesses and cab drivers are already suffering as a result of lockdown and added that it would be a huge relief to them if the government could look for other methods rather than imposing lockdown.

However, Prime Minister said that if lockdown and restrictions are eased then not only the Covid-19 patient’s sicknesses and death rates would rise, but also non-Covid patients would be unable to obtain medical services or health experts, leading to health system in the country getting overwhelmed due to the rising number of patients.

The PM also reminded the people that His Majesty has been closely watching other countries that have eased restrictions and eliminated lockdown in order to learn from them and apply it here.

“People argue that because the Omicron is milder than the previous type, restrictions should be relaxed. Nonetheless, the main reason the Omicron does not damage an individual’s health is due to the vaccination. If the country had not vaccinated its citizens, the situation would have worsened,” Lyonchhen said.

The PM also informed that the vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 will be available by February 28 and that the first dose will be delivered within 10 days. “By April 5 or 6, the second dose will be given. The schools will reopen in mid-April, about a week after the second injection, when the children’s immune systems would have been completely awakened. The schools were meant to start on March 1,” the PM said. 

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu