Opposition recommends govt to re-strategize COVID-19 management

It also recommends the government to re-embark the nation back on the track of economic progress

The Opposition Party has recommended the government to re-strategize COVID-19 management and re-embark the nation back on the track of economic progress.

In a press release issued by the party yesterday, it stated that the sooner we learn and innovate our COVID-19 strategies and put the wheel of the economy back into running, the better it will be for the nation and people.

The Opposition, through its press release, has also offered three major recommendations to the government for its serious consideration.

1.      Re-Strategizing COVID-19 Management and Lockdown – Keeping lockdowns short and effective

The Opposition recommended that the government must look into ways of keeping lockdowns short and effective.

“We concur that lockdown is the best strategy to contain and combat virus. However, the longer it goes, it becomes injurious too, to the national economy, private sector and individual citizens. Low income and wage workers are hit the hardest,” states the press release.

For this purpose, henceforth, the government, according to the Opposition, should innovate strategies and methods of managing future outbreaks. It should come up with a comprehensive new management plan based on multi-pronged and integrated mechanisms of expediting vaccination of children, administering mass booster dose, efficient contact tracing, earlier mass screening, revisiting quarantine and isolation mechanisms, changing the lockdown methods with minimal disruptions (cluster or area or specific dwelling), and based on other experiences gained thus far.

“Otherwise, we should promote sound health protocols at workplaces and let the economy and business get back on the wheel,” states the press release.

Further, the Opposition stated that the confusions and ordeals faced by stranded people is not new and have hardly changed from the second lockdown.

“The government must come up with clear and uniformly interpreted, understood and applied procedures throughout all Dzongkhags, of managing such cases,” states the press release.

2.      Streamlining Healthcare Services – Particularly critical services for co-morbid patients

The Opposition also strongly recommends the government to review, streamline and prepare the health services throughout the country, starting with national referral and regional referral hospitals on a priority basis, in keeping with the needs of the changing circumstances imposed by the pandemic and emerging requirements.

According to the party, one of the immediate impacts of lockdown is on healthcare services, from inpatient to outpatient to critical patient care services. It was raised in the past too that due to frequent and prolonged lockdowns, more people could die due to challenges in access to health services than of the virus. It is suspected that some urgent and critical patients awaiting referrals or operations or treatments have succumbed to death due to delay in medical services during both second and third lockdowns. Further, except for one such isolation ward in Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), there are no separate isolation facilities for COVID-19 positive patients with chronic comorbidities needing critical treatments in regional and other hospitals. Such a state of unpreparedness even after almost two years of the outbreak of the pandemic is unacceptable.

The Opposition also stated that it remains deeply concerned by the recent incident of the death of a 34-year-old woman, a positive co-morbid patient referred from Phuentsholing Hospital to JDWNRH, who is reported to have succumbed totally due to logistical and medical negligence.

“What is baffling is that the government had covered up and misled the nation on the circumstances of her death until the facts were revealed by her family members, and the government is yet to provide any explanation on the incident,” states the press release.

The Opposition has called upon the government to provide full explanations to the nation on this most unfortunate incident, embrace accountability and put measures to avoid such mishaps in future.

3.      Strategizing Revival of Economy – Putting the economy back in running and on the track of progress

The Opposition has urged the government to formulate comprehensive economic recovery plan including specific revival plans for key economic sectors like tourism, hotels and hospitality, construction, industries, SMEs, exports, etc., and accord the highest priority to employment generation.

 It stated that the cabinet members not actively engaged in COVID-19 management could productively invest their time and efforts on this.

“Our economy has been going through the worst spell in the history of our nation with tumbling economic indicators, from growth rate to per capita income to employment rate to ballooning debt in the last two years. As such, in tandem with battling the pandemic, it is high time that we give serious attention to the economy too. Any further delay in reviving and putting the economy back on track could cause a debilitating and irreversible impact on the potential of bouncing back in the future,” states the press release.

However, despite this dire situation, according to the Opposition, the government is to come up with any clear and concrete plan to revive the economy yet.

“This is at the least naive, if not irresponsible, and is deeply worrying,” states the press release.  According to the Opposition Party, it remains ever ready to render the fullest support to the government in any endeavors it calls for their expertise and inputs. 

Yenten Thinley from Thimphu