Unwise to disregard pandemic norms

We are still living in the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic and things would not turn to normal unless the virus is eradicated.

New cases around the world are mounting up with even new variants invading us every now and then. Some countries are again imposing restrictions to contain the spread of virus. Though, no local transmission, Bhutan still has active cases.

Under the benevolent leadership of His Majesty The King, service of the government and public, Bhutan did well in containing the pandemic. There was no major pandemic hazard-high death rate. So far, the country had 2629 confirmed cases where 2618 have recovered. Bhutan had just three death cases till date, feat on its own.

However, the economy of the country is affected gravely. The biggest contributors to the economy of the country like the construction and manufacturing sectors, tourism, and service sectors have been the hardest hit sectors. Many have lost the jobs due to the pandemic.

Our citizens had experienced months long lockdown, particularly residents of Phuentsholing had bitter experiences which should be a cue that we cannot falter now.

However, despite our bitter encounter with the virus, our communities have again started becoming complacent as hoardes of people are seen gathering frequently in towns and communities. The containers of washing points are empty. The practices of washing hands, using hand sanitizer and wearing mask are disregarded. There are also reports of people crossing border illegally.

Compliance with self-care and risk mitigation strategies to tackle COVID-19 has been enforced by the concern authority but there are some denialism. 

From the outset, COVID-19 public health messaging was, and remains, primarily aimed at modifying individual lifestyles and behaviours to flatten the infectivity curve by following ‘common sense’ approaches; hands–face–space mantra.

Discordance with set pandemic norms—the absence of shared social ethic and responsibility will weaken communal bonds and increase the threat.

In addressing this threat, it is vital to reinforce public health messaging by bolstering the underpinning social norms. Exploring individual non-compliance, and reflecting on wider societal impact, can help build critical normative resilience to future pandemics.

Recently the Prime Minister’s Office reminded the public to practice the pandemic norms with advancing winter months that favour transmission of virus and be prepared with adequate food stock and essentials items. Should there be a lockdown, the last hour rush should not aggravate spread of the disease in the community.

People should remain guided by His Majesty’s command to adopt highest standards. People should maintain utmost caution and avoid unnecessary gatherings. People should support government to endure the tough times together to win against all odds. 

We have come thus far and theres no room to falter. Otherwise all our efforts will come down crashing like a house of cards which cannot happen, atleast now.