Thimphu and Paro lockdown extended for two more weeks
For residents in Thimphu and Paro, today will mark the 21 days of lockdown. The government has imposed an additional lockdown of 14 days for both of the districts
Under the dynamic leadership of His Majesty the King of Bhutan, the government, and the front line workers, Bhutan has been responding well against the coronavirus pandemic. The first imported case was detected in the country since early March. Albeit thousands of COVID-19 deaths happening globally, Bhutan has managed to maintain zero mortality until a few days ago.
With immense grief, one of the recent press releases from the Ministry of Health informed the nation of the demise of a 34-year-old man. The patient had pre-existing medical conditions (chronic liver disease and renal failure) and was detected with COVID-19. The news brought sadness to many Bhutanese.
Meanwhile, the restrictions for districts outside of Thimphu and Paro are slowly easing after 2 weeks of nationwide lockdown. Whereas for residents in Thimphu and Paro, today will mark the 21 days of lockdown. The government has imposed an additional lockdown of 14 days for both of the districts due to the rising of COVID-19 positive cases in Thimphu and Paro. In an attempt to break the chain of transmission, Prime Minister Dasho Dr. Lotay Tshering announced for the extension of lockdown implementation.
With the current escalating situation of increasing number of positive cases, there is a great risk of spreading the virus, and the lockdown in the capital city could go on for a very long time.
The government has been constantly urging citizens to cooperate and adhere to the restrictions throughout this period. During the 3 weeks lockdown, there has been news where citizens were caught violating the lockdown rules such as paying visit to friends and family members.
Currently, each household gets one Movement Pass for essential purposes. The government has come up with penalties for any violations of the Movement Pass guidelines to prevent mischievous behaviours. Attorney General Lungten Dubgyur was on BBS to remind the public of the legal provisions, offenses, and prosecutions related to the lockdown rules.
After studying the epidemiological shreds of evidence and determining all probabilities of further disease spread, the National COVID-19 Taskforce has decided to roll out the measures to ease nationwide lockdown starting from January 6, 2021. The government is initiating measures to ease lockdown so that it becomes less disruptive for people to live and pursue livelihood within the norms.
In addition, the National COVID-19 Taskforce (NC19TF) has revised the protocol for stranded individuals who seek to travel to their place of residences. For those traveling to Thimphu, Paro, and other high-risk areas from other dzongkhags, an antigen test will be carried out and they are allowed to travel if the result is negative.
Prime Minister along with the Cabinet Ministers met with the finance officials in a virtual meeting this evening. The virtual meeting was to determine the overall economic scenario of the country and to understand the impact of the second lockdown. The finance officials presented the estimates and simulation for each sector while gauging the GDP growth and implications on employment during this period.
As compared to the first lockdown that divulged valuable lessons, the preparedness to sustain trade and imports, and facilitation of all exports, had seemingly cushioned the impact this time. Also, in reviewing the budget and expenditures so far, the Prime Minister reminded all the sectors that 2021 was crucial for economic recovery, and insisted on effective implementation of capital investments.
He urged all sectors to revisit and prioritize activities that were new, innovative, and effective to revive the economy. More reviews and realistic assessments will be carried out over the days.
Meanwhile, the residents of Thimphu and Paro have shown immense support and cooperation to the front-line workers who have been working tirelessly around the clock. In addition to the existing mobile flu clinics, the Ministry of Health will be providing additional mobile flu clinic services to those residing in the peripheral settlements of Thimphu starting from Monday, 11 January 2021.