Hold the fort
Recently, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country crossed 300. It certainly does not bode well for Bhutan because we are discovering new infections on a regular basis. But one thing all of us learnt during this pandemic is the lesson of being systematic, acting swiftly and decisively and on time.
From streets with no proper addresses, no proper zoning, and an almost escapist attitude to the virus which led to the delay in closure of the tourism sector activities, to help lines being clogged, to late deliveries of essentials and to outpouring of hate and complaints on social media, we have basically seen what a pandemic can do to a system that has not braced up immediately to the situation in hand.
But then, there were other things to celebrate: from strong and wise leadership to putting together a COVID task force and response system that worked and is still working tirelessly, to coming together for a cause, and volunteering, we also saw several examples of sacrificial service.
When the odds are against an individual or community, we can either give up or fight. And fight, we did. The pandemic is still spreading its tentacles. The southern parts of the country are under lockdown; people are being tested and quarantined every day, and movement from high risk to low risk zones are restricted.
We are still encouraged to follow basic sanitary protocol like washing hands, using facemasks, cough etiquette and social distancing. Though the panic stricken atmosphere has relaxed a bit, we are not free from danger. The virus is unpredictable. All we can do and those are the things we must do are follow safety measures individually and the authorities must spread advocacy and try to implement safety protocol effectively and efficiently.
The influenza vaccination is also here and one must not neglect to avail it. As of now, there are zero fatalities due to COVID19, and we must give it to the government of the day that they have been really working hard, day in and out, on the health and social system responses to the crisis brought about by the virus.
Of course, there were a few unforeseen bloopers like shifting the vegetable vendors from the Centenary Farmers Market to the multi-parking spaces. We still don’t know clearly what is happening to the situation. Are the vendors surviving or starving? Little is known and few seem to care.
One wishes that the government would look back at its major decisions sometimes and do an impact analysis. But since no government is perfect, all of them being composed of fallible and frail human beings, maybe we should also focus on the good done.
DNT has been very media friendly and is one of the most accessible governments that the Bhutanese has elected so far. They also have a savvy and efficient media team and regular press meetings and briefings keep the lines of communication open. It is refreshing for a change.
Even as the country adopts the new normal, we as citizens must shoulder our individual responsibilities and those toward society and community. One cannot be a lone island if we are to win battles against changing times including a pandemic that has killed millions around the world. Let us hold onto each other. And yes, let us hold the fort.