Bhutan

COVID-19- Lockdown will only happen if there is a community transmission

The Bhutanese Expression - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:53

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said there is no need for the country to lockdown as there is no community transmission of COVID -19 cases in the country, so far. Lockdown, which is mainly for weeks, will only happen if there is community transmission to stop the spread of the disease from one community to another.

With the country detecting its third positive case of novel coronavirus on Wednesday, concerned netizens took to social media urging and suggesting the government to lock down the country.

Responding to the matter, Dr Lotay Tshering said the government will not lock down the country for now as it does not has any cases of community transmission.

“In a lockdown situation, people will not be allowed to step out of their homes and all shops will be closed. We must do this if there is a case of community transmission of the disease. If a person who has no travel history abroad, and if he happens to be unaware of the places he has been in the country and people he came across with, then we need to be worried. This can lead to community transmission. In such cases, lockdown will help spread the disease from one community to another. Then only, the government will go ahead with the decision to lockdown,” said Dr Lotay Tshering, the Prime Minister.

However, the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday issued a press release putting forward various restrictions on Public Gathering, Travel, Business and Entertainment, Games and Sports, Civil Service, Corporate, Private and other agencies.

On the other hand, with the directives from the government, Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) is busy stocking up essential commodities as a backup plan in cases of the possible lockdown of the country, in the coming days.

Providing a budget of over Nu 300 M, FCBL is directed to stockpile essential items to last for at least three months. The FCB store in Phuentshogling has almost finished stockpiling half of the essential goods, so far.

“From our estimation for three months, we need to stockpile 8,407 metric tonnes of rice, 828 metric tonnes of oil, and 338 metric tonnes of pulses. We have started working from 9th March and so far, we have procured 3217 metric tonnes of rice, 435 metric tonnes of oil, and 102 metric tonnes of pulses,” said Naiten Wangchuk, the CEO of FCB.

Likewise, the FCB depot in Samtse is also well-stocked with essential items such as rice, salt, oil and pulses. The office is bringing in over 800 metric tonnes of items. Meanwhile, the regional FCB office in Gelegphu has stocked up more than 1200 metric tonnes of food security reserve for the 4 dzongkhags of Tsirang, Dagana, Zhemgang, and Sarpang. And in Samdrup Jongkhar, stockpiling of over thousand metric tonnes of food items for the six eastern Dzongkhags is under full swing.

Despite the 21-day lockdown in India which created few initial troubles in the orderly supplies of food, fuel and other supplies of essentials in the country, a long line of trucks carrying essentials supplies were seen entering Bhutan, yesterday. Moreover, the Government of India, despite the lockdown in India had assured essential supplies to Bhutan.

Passang Dorji

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Categorie: Bhutan

Govt. assures there will be no ban on import of vegetable and fruits

The Bhutanese Expression - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:53

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering clarified that the ban on import of vegetables and fruits is not true and assured its continued supply. People were confused following the Agriculture Minister’s statement to the media on Wednesday which contradicted with a notice from the Agriculture Ministry issued on Thursday.

Talking to the BBS, Agriculture minister Yeshey Penjor had said import of vegetables and fruits will not be allowed until further notice as a control measure against the spread of COVID-19. On the other hand, the Ministry’s notification read that no official notification banning the import of vegetables and fruits were issued.

Meanwhile, acting on impulse, hundreds of people were seen rushing to vegetable markets in the last two days panic-buying.

“It should be fine as long as you get the vegetables you consume regularly. Lyonpo might have used the word “Ban” but we will import based on the situation and different approaches. The short closure was only because the border town gates were closed,” said Dr Lotay Tshering, the Prime Minister.

Lyonchhen explained a system is already in place to ensure the supply of essential food items is not interrupted:

“We have authorised government vehicles in place for the transportation of goods. If Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor made a mistake in the statement, I want to apologize for that. But the most important thing for the people right now is the products and I assure and vouch that we will provide it, even if it costs us our lives.”

As per the Agriculture Ministry’s notification, although there is no ban on the import of vegetables and fruits, such imports will be subject to Coronavirus containment protocols in place at the border entry points.

Tshering Dendup

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Categorie: Bhutan

Bumthang comes up with district level e-Learning to supplement the nationwide e-Learning

The Bhutanese Expression - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:53

The Bumthang Dzongkhag’s Education sector launched their own version of e-Learning Program at the district level on local channels, this morning. The program which focuses on the syllabus of class X and XII is only to supplement the nationwide e-Learning program aired on BBS channels.

Though this might contradict Education Ministry’s e-learning advisory issued yesterday asking teachers not to teach the regularly prescribed syllabus, Bumthang’s Education In Emergency taskforce members said this is only to keep students engaged and not for assessments.

Teachers of classes X and XII from various schools of Bumthang take turns to record their lessons. Some teachers go live on the local channel to receive calls from students to clarify their doubts once the recorded program ends. The cable operators are assisting the education sector with technical support and the lessons are aired for free. The lessons will be broadcast on Saturdays and Mondays when there are no lessons for the classes aired on BBS.

“We are having this program just to keep our students engaged and we are focusing on class X and XII because they will probably have to attend board exams towards the end of the year. We also have counselling lessons by our school counsellors and Choeshey Layrim or religious discourse by Zhung Drattshang’s Lams placed in our schools and these are all done just to make the students feel comfortable at home. Moreover, this is to keep the academic connection that the teachers and students share,” said Ngawang Jamtsho, the Principal of Jakar Higher Secondary School.

Due to limited technical equipment and expertise, teachers are faced with some challenges at the moment. The lessons taught are on the regular class 10 and 12 syllabi but students will not be evaluated based on the lessons aired on the local channels.

“We are keeping the students engaged through Google Classroom and WeChat groups but there are affordability issues related with phones and data charges, so we are choosing the television option as most students have TV sets at home. There will be no assessments at all based on the lessons taught on the local channels. We will teach the lessons again at school when the schools reopen,” he added.

A recent survey of class IV to XII conducted by the district’s education sector found that about 120 students of the roughly 1675 surveyed had no television sets at home.

Kipchu

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Categorie: Bhutan

Search teams looking for two missing monks along the Drangme chhu

The Bhutanese Expression - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:53

Two monks, aged 18 and 16 of Trashigang Rabdey, have gone missing since yesterday from Gomphukora in Trashi Yangtse.

They were found missing only at around 8.00 pm while taking attendance in the Lhakhang after the evening prayer. The monks were at the Gomphukora Lhakhang for their usual rituals.

Their belongings including robes, slippers and wallets were spotted at the riverside of Drangme chhu.

Rescue teams from Trashigang and Trashi Yangtse Dzongkhags, police, Desuups, red cross volunteers, teachers and Dzongkhag officials are still searching for them along the Drangme chhu.

Sonam Darjay

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Categorie: Bhutan

“Please don’t send your employees on unpaid leave,” the Prime Minister

The Bhutanese Expression - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:53

Considering the current market situation, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering is requesting business owners not to send their employees or staff on unpaid leave. Lyonchhen also informed that he has asked the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources to monitor such cases.

“Despite the government’s various policies and despite requesting various business owners not to send their employees on unpaid leave, a few of them have been doing so just because they are incurring loss due to the bad market. For them, I would personally request not to do this as the employees were involved in making profits for their business earlier. Keeping this at the back of the mind if the business owner could help them rather than sending them on unpaid leave, the government will take note of such deeds and they will be acknowledged,” said Dr Lotay Tshering, the Prime Minister.

Passang Dorji

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Categorie: Bhutan

A family of six lost everything to a house fire in Bumthang

The Bhutanese Expression - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:50

A fire which broke out at around 3 am this morning razed a one-storey house to the ground at Dekiling township under Bumthang town.

The family of six lost all their belongings to the fire including phones bought for accessing children’s e-learning materials and rations worth about Nu 50,000 bought recently according to the father.

The 58-year-old father suffered minor burns on his right hand while putting out the fire. Police, DeSuups and locals helped contain the fire. The cause of the fire is not known and police are investigating the case.

TheDzongkhag Administration delivered His Majesty’s Semso to the family.

Kipchu

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Categorie: Bhutan

Commuters asking for rescheduling of road closure timing (Viewpoint- Trongsa)

The Bhutanese Expression - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:50

Commuters along the east-west highway are asking for rescheduling of the road closure timing between Thumang Dra and Trongsa town. They say, under the current arrangement, they have to wait for long hours delaying their journey.

Passang

 

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Categorie: Bhutan