The beginning of an end

This is something like the beginning of an end.

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported worldwide fell by 16% last week to 2.7mn. The number of new deaths reported also fell 10% week-on-week to 81,000, according to WHO.

Five of the six WHO regions of the world reported a double-digit percentage decline in new cases with only the Eastern Mediterranean showing a rise of 7%. New case numbers dropped 20% last week in Africa and in the Western Pacific, 18% in Europe, 16% in the Americas and 13% in South East Asia.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebeyesus attributed the decline in new COVID-19 cases to the “simple health measures (that) work, even in the presence of variants.”

As of Monday, the UK variant was detected in 94 countries, the South-African variant in 46 countries and the Brazilian variant in 21 countries.

The COVAX facility, the global COVID-19 vaccine procurement and distribution effort that is especially pushing for COVID-immunization in poorer countries has rolled out the final shipment list for first deliveries which will be issued next week following WHO approving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

One-forty-five economies in the world are set to receive the vaccine for 3.3% of the collective population by mid-2021 through COVAX,

WHO has approved the vaccine roll out in Bhutan as well which will be receiving 40,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca by March-end. The vaccine will have to be administered in two doses in adults within an interval of eight to 12 weeks.

As the global community, including Bhutan sets out to fight the Coronavirus with preventative measures and medical innovations, let us not forget the long journey that we have travelled so far since December 2019 when the virus was first detected in China.

We in Bhutan were a little complacent until March 2020 when the first imported case was intercepted. After that has been a whirlwind of activities that involve advocating and responding to crisis at the minutest to the highest level. This has been a great test for the nation. Yet, we held on under the leaders even as the government authorities took the bull by its horns.

There were plenty of dissenters and critics who were vocal about how the government had failed the nation during the pandemic but only few know the sacrifices and the hard-work behind the scenes. Not everything that is evident is apparent to the eye.

As the government tackled managing the burgeoning expenditure on COVID-related measures, as it established the systems to manage the lockdowns, as it served the people through tireless hours and sleepless nights in offices, as the officials and frontline responders spent weeks away from home and loved ones, let us not forget their sacrifices for they did it out of love for their land.

It is easy to criticize. It is much easier to point out flaws. But had we been in the shoes of all the leaders, the frontline responders, the health personnel, the armed forces, the Desuups, and the border security patrol, would we have done a good, let alone a better job?

As the country readies for the vaccine roll out and to combat the catastrophic effects of the pandemic, we will hopefully see a new era where appreciation is given where it is due, where there is less demeaning and more cherishing, where diligence and dedication is rewarded commensurate.

Yes, even as this is the beginning of an end, maybe the end will give rise to a new beginning.