Bhutan has always been heard by the world for its grace of GNH (Gross National Happiness) Yet also known for the generous leadership of our sovereign. Who has been protecting the tiniest boundaries , wedged between the vast territories of our neighbour countries China and India for centuries. Unfolding the year 2019,December the devastating news of corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, China which is now a pandemic affecting globally had us all startled. Since then it has become a history for every individual’s life.

Bhutan got it alarmed. Mindful, for it was primed as a life-threatening virus. People were all disrupted but not terrified to battle it, for we have always believed in our supreme leader’s heroism. More importantly people were well educated about the safety measures throughout the nation. Not a single were left unheard about the protocols.

The drilling for the mighty war has begun and so did the rivals, regrettably the virus was confirmed to have reached Bhutan on March 6 ,2020 . When a 76 year old American tourist who had travelled from India tested positive for covid-19. Since then the country suffered progressing numerous positive cases , with zero number of death as luck would have it. Every new day had become so challenging . The government immediately banned tourist, sealed every border gates , closed schools and institutions. While neighbour countries were all undergoing a genuine lockdown.

However, Bhutan succeeding the safety regulations, days were carried out constantly . The preparations of the country made with guidance from His Majesty the King, received much international acclaim for handling the threat and cases of COVID-19 . Despite the fright , country seemingly fine kept sprinting unless the very first lockdown initiation hit the date of 11 August, 2020 . The national lockdown was then announced officially.

The lockdown begun with the immense blessing of His Majesty the king. The happiest news knocked every household when His Majesty made an announcement of loan deferments all over the nation. Individuals were made to pay no loans until further noticed as every businesses, firms, Tourism Industry etc were then condemned from the pandemic. His Majesty also granted with certain amount as benefits every month to people who financially has fallen out because of COVID-19. For His Majesty’s wise vision was to have no hunger caused during the lockdown. Not only for the people but under the command of His Majesty, the Royal Bhutan Army and Desuup has begun a nation-wide stray dog feeding program to ensure that dogs also do not starve during lockdown. Likewise the orange warriors DESUUPS -The Guardians Of Peace (As per the command of His Majesty the King, it was assembled in 2011, Integrating Training Program instituting value based personal development with the objective to encourage all citizens to be actively participating and contributing in the greater role of nation-building and dedicating their volunteerism of lifetime in nation’s Peace keeping ) has also started coming out despite the instability situation outside, as a helping hand to the front liners. Together with the police and armed forces, Desuups were also deployed at frontiers, away from their loved ones for extensive durations. Yet the quintessence cuffed the country’s gratification in every ways forth.

Needful essentials were delivered to thousands of home, including vegetables despite the shortages . As many imports had drawn to end already. Medical cares were served from doorstep upon its emergencies. Even the high profile Desuups counting our royal families and former ministers , were also engaged in serving the lockdown starting from unloading of goods to delivering of vegetables to households. The food and shelters were provided to few unfortunate vagrants by the His Majesty’s relief team. Elderly citizens were bestowed with free vitamins ; starting from cities to every distant region they were also put up with daily necessities reached on foot by the Desuups . The scorching day heat , bitterly cold nights , or sleeping in the dust wouldn’t tire the warriors in orange, if it is to keep ones people safe. They least considered their soul for the patriotism they have in their heart and for the word of honour they took as oath. It indeed was a lock down like no other.

Bhutan Red Cross Society (Non -government organization) Including members from Taxi Association. Having the vision of a credible ,effective and efficient humanitarian joined the front liners in serving the lockdown too. Volunteers were deployed in supporting health officials in transporting materials, in tracking and tracing addresses and also performing organized funerals at the same time .

Just when everyone was busy giving their best in fighting the virus, there was a time when all the hard works were paid back by loyalty and appreciation of the people and the Queen . Front liners were often treated on field by refreshments made by Her Majesty the Queen . It may be the most beautiful thing to be witnessed in one’s life as the Queen herself would cook for her people. It indeed was a lockdown like no other.

Farmers started contributing with vegetables, dairies, grains and many more with what they can provide to the front liners for their daily on-duty meals. Simultaneously people at home started keeping home-made refreshments outside their doors and by the roadsides with a gratitude note written on boards for the fighters out there . Landlords beholding the efforts put in by the government , the rents were waived off in certain places for their tenants. The monastic body of the nation played its role by performing needful rituals for people's well-being, It is beyond blessing for the people and this so far would have happened only in Bhutan - The Land Of Happiness.

1st September the nation started easing the lockdown in three phases . The first three days people were advised to practice physical distance. Individuals were allowed to only walk or ride a cycle. However, the opening of more designated shops and restaurants, while allowing to only walk in the localities. In the second phase public transports were allowed to carry half the passenger capacity within the locality. And the third phase, people were allowed for the movement to other districts under certain registrations . Also, busses were arranged by the government for those stranded people during lockdown to move to their respective areas. Face masks were then mandatory and sanitizers were the new normal.

All for one and One for all, this lockdown eventually ended as a never ending grace in everyone’s mind .

The virus has tested the very core of humanity‘s existence . Many great nations have fallen victim to this pandemic. Our small nation is no exception and we too are in the midst of COVID-19 battle . Studies globally have Shown that strong and dynamic leader -ship is the key to fighting the virus. Luckily for us, in our king we have a leadership that is unparalleled which is further substantiated by strong political will, our fight against this pandemic has been truly exemplary. No other country would have it done unless under the reign of “God of All Grace “ (Wangchuck Dynasty) and no other shangri-la would have competed BHUTAN, for it was at its best knowing their own people.

Photos Courtesy : Dessung FB & Bhutan Red Cross Society FB

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Full time travel blogger from Bhutan.

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