Phuentsholing residents alert after lockdown rumor

The town has not recorded a single community transmission case of the Covid-19 in the last 108 days

A rumor about another possible lockdown in Phuentsholing has caused a bit of a stir among the local residents, who are now extra cautious about not letting the virus take the border town hostage again, with painful memories of the recent prolonged lockdown still haunting many.    

 โ€œWe donโ€™t want to let another outbreak wreck our daily lives; that is why we have been extremely careful about our hygiene, while complying with every existing pandemic protocols,โ€ Tshering Duba, a local resident said, โ€œI almost lost my business during the lockdown and itโ€™s been tough trying to reset everything from a scratch.โ€    

The father of four school going children is worried he may not survive the second wave of the lockdown. Meanwhile, he has been working really hard to bring his transportation venture back on track after nearly losing it completely.

Phuentsholing did not record a single community transmission case of the Covid-19 in the last 108 days, an impressive milestone, which the local residents wish to continue maintaining.  

โ€œRumors are actually good to keep people on their toes otherwise, I can see them getting complacent,โ€ said Penjore, a resident, while adding how living in a border town is a reason enough to stay alert.

With the sharp rise in positive cases across the border, Rajesh, another resident, thinks everyone is at risk.

โ€œThe rumors are keeping people inside. We are the first line of defense and if we lose here, people in other dzongkhags will have to bear the burden,โ€ he said.

Similarly, with winter approaching, Pema Wangmo is concerned about peopleโ€™s relaxed attitude in Phuentsholing, where the situation can turn extreme overnight. She believes following the safety protocols to the book is the only way to avoid the second prolonged lockdown.   

An official from the Southern Covid19 Task Force (SC19TF) confirmed that the stories about the lockdown are just rumors started by some residents because their office did not issue any lockdown notice. 

โ€œPeople should refrain from spreading such rumors as it may cause panic among the residents, who may resort to extreme measures,โ€ the official said, โ€œPeople will be informed in case of any future lockdown and should confirm with official sources before believing in these rumors.โ€

The same was reiterated by some of the residents Business Bhutan talked to who say the rumors can trigger buying frenzy, thus creating dearth of essential commodities. 

Vishwa Chhetri, an entrepreneur, explained how the rumors are affecting local businesses, which had gradually bounced back after severe disruption due to the prolonged lockdown. 

According to him, people are now avoiding market areas to stay safe, which is totally unnecessary given that there has not been a single local transmission in over three months.

โ€œI started noticing the decline from last month. Today, there are hardly any customers in the market and the rumor is making the situation worse,โ€ he said.

Yeshey Needup, a civil contractor, has been worried since he first heard the rumors last week. If he is to believe the rumor, it would mean stopping his ongoing construction works, which was completely disrupted once earlier this year. 

โ€œConstruction costs go up when work comes to a grinding halt causing civil contractors like us heavy losses on our project,โ€ he said, adding that concerned authorities should find the person responsible for spreading fake information.

Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing