Where are we today ? | Kuensel online
Covid-19 is an ongoing story. We don’t know where we are in the evolution of the pandemic/epidemic/disease, whatever we call it. But, as the government has decided to move into a new phase of crisis management, it is good to be aware of what is happening in the world.
Many countries take turns dominating the Covid-19 news, with Hong Kong and China being among the latest. We have learned that the deadly spike in deaths in Hong Kong was due to the fact that many elderly and vulnerable people had not been vaccinated. The government was unprepared for the outbreak and had no contingency plan until late February. They had not planned what they would do in the event of an outbreak in an institutional setting, in retirement homes in this case.
It is reassuring to see that Bhutan has taken a compassionate approach and focused on protecting the vulnerable. Thursday’s death – a 52-day-old boy and a 62-year-old woman – speaks volumes.
This week China, so far a success story, reported a record number of cases and immediately placed 24 million people in quarantine. The province-wide lockdown aims to maintain China’s “dynamic zero Covid” strategy which is significantly undermined by the Omicron variant. While Chinese experts would recommend a change in strategy, President Xi Jinping has maintained the “zero Covid” policy.
The numbers in countries like China and India are in the millions. For Bhutan, being sensitive to small numbers, even the hundreds of cases are alarming.
The United States, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world report similar trends and situations. Their mortality rates are higher than before Covid and their successes reflect the efforts of their governments. Russia was high in the spread of the pandemic as well as in the number of deaths, with strong resistance to vaccination, until the war covered all Covid news.
Singapore and New Zealand have moved away from elimination policies and it seems to be working as they have detailed plans on how to deal with them. And Scandinavian countries are generally successful because of their resources and highly educated people. The Spanish government ordered people to stay at home for more than three months and prevented a collapse of the healthcare system, but has now changed its strategy to treat the next outbreak of infection not as an emergency but as a disease who is here to stay. Portugal and the UK have adopted a similar strategy shifting from crisis mode to control mode.
Given that the virus and its mutants have been an unpredictable adversary, Bhutan is always walking a tightrope. Although we learn from global experiences, we have much to learn from our own. We do not flatter ourselves with our successes; nor do we compare ourselves to any other country.
But we saw reassuring vision, compassion and success in solving a problem that quickly and ruthlessly brought the world to its knees. Now the government must muster the same qualities and strengths to deal with our own people.
Yes, it’s good that we make people more responsible. But no, don’t expect everyone to be up to it. Today, the government is talking to different sections of society to inform them of the national Covid strategy. As we educate people on the way forward, we need to listen but not be overwhelmed by a few angry voices on social media.
A cautious and reasoned approach to problems has always been Bhutan’s strength. It’s always like that.