How the small Himalayan nation Bhutan combats COVID-19 efficiently

Email

With just 37 doctors, 1200 vaccination centers and less than 3000 healthcare workers, Bhutan vaccinated 93% of its eligible population within 9 days.

On 11 May 2021, Bhutan's Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering went on LIVE with CNN International (First Move with Julia Chatterley).

As shared by the Prime Minister, Bhutan is often unheard of. But thanks to its efficient handling of COVID-19 pandemic, the tiny Himalayan kingdom has gained much recognition and praises from international media.

During the CNN interview with Julia Chatterley, Prime Minister Lotay Tshering shared about the ongoing efforts to battle the pandemic, the nationwide vaccination campaign, and requested for other countries to assist Bhutan with the second doses of vaccines.

Preparation and swift actions

Bhutan has started preparation since February 2020 upon news of the coronavirus outbreak in China. 

On 5th March, the Kingdom detected its first imported case of the coronavirus. The government acted swiftly to prevent any outbreak.

The country closed the borders for tourism immediately after the first positive case was detected. A National COVID-19 Task Force (NC19TF) was constituted with the Prime Minister as the Chair.

A 21-day mandatory quarantine was implemented for all Bhutanese returning from abroad. Expenses for quarantine facilities including food, accommodation and testing were borne by the government. 

Contacts tracing of positive cases were prompt. Lockdowns were rapidly implemented in affected areas. 

Nationwide vaccination drive

With just 37 doctors, 1200 vaccination centers and less than 3000 healthcare workers, Bhutan vaccinated 93% of its eligible population within 9 days. A mammoth undertaking for a tiny nation. But it was made possible through carefully designed plans, as well as unity and trust of the people. 

Bhutan waited to acquire enough vaccines to conduct a nationwide vaccination drive. Consulted the astrologer and selected an auspicious date for the campaign. Rallied the entire nation for support. 

The nationwide vaccination campaign began on March 27. The population was inoculated with the first doses of AstraZeneca vaccines. 

(Source: Unicef)

Thousands of Desuups (volunteer citizens) were deployed to deliver vaccines, ensured that citizens reported for appointments and educated Bhutanese on social distancing. 

Health workers hiked through harsh weather conditions to remote villages including Lunana, one of the world's most remote places. 

(Source: Unicef)

Preparation for second vaccination drive

The AstraZeneca vaccines were gifts from its friendly neighbour, India, who is currently facing a dire healthcare crisis. As such, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering mentioned in the CNN LIVE that the kingdom is requesting assistance from other countries even though Prime Minister Modi has agreed to continue helping Bhutan with their second doses.

Bhutan is reaching out to all the leaders in the world to support the Kingdom with their second doses of vaccines. Preferably with AstraZeneca but any approved vaccinations with proven track record would still be good for the country. 

Compassion of the People's King

Much of the successful handling of COVID-19 pandemic has been credited to the leadership, guidance and compassion of the fifth king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

From distribution of multivitamins and Vitamin C to providing financial assistance, the King strives to ensure that the well-being and safety of Bhutanese are of utmost priority. 

From April 2021, the Druk Gyalpo's Relief Kidu was extended for another 15 months to provide economic relief for those who were impacted by the pandemic. Over 37,000 people and their children have been granted monthly income through the Kidu support in the last one year. Close to 140,000 loan accounts also benefited from interest payment support.

The down-to-earth and compassionate King has also been personally visiting the rural communities and border areas to ensure that the people are protected and taken care of. In these challenging times, the king's presence and continued encouragements have undoubtedly been a unifying force in the country.

As of May 12, the country has recorded a total of 1,241 positive cases with 1,089 recovered and one death.



Related Posts

Bhutan is set to carry out nationwide vaccination drive from 27...

With the 550,000 doses of Covishield vaccines, Bhutan is set to roll out its nationwide vaccination drive on 27 March...

Mar 23, 2021 11:20

Bhutan is expected to receive the first consignment of the...

According to Indian media, the consignment of 150,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield for...

Jan 20, 2021 15:04

A detailed summary of Bhutan's COVID-19 management and plans...

With offices and all businesses open, movement of vehicles allowed and critical services resumed from 21st March 2022,...

Mar 22, 2022 11:23

Vaccinated tourists to undergo 5-day quarantine in Bhutan from...

What you need to know about entering Bhutan from April 25.

Mar 14, 2022 14:21

Bhutan Prime Minister urges children aged 5 to 11 to get their...

Bhutan's nationwide vaccination drive for children will be held from 6th to 12th March 2022.

Mar 07, 2022 14:18

Bhutan will be rolling out nationwide vaccination drive for...

Earlier today, Bhutan has received the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccines for children aged 5 to 11.

Mar 02, 2022 14:01

Latest

News

Progress on Bhutan's Sustainable Low Emission Urban Transport System Project

Bhutan now has 200 electric vehicles on the road, with another hundred to be dispatched very soon.

Nov 29, 2022 18:13

Translation of His Majesty's Address to the Nation at the 8th Session of the Third Parliament

His Majesty delivered the Royal Address on the Opening Ceremony of the 8th Session of the Third Parliament, 4th November, 2022.

Nov 05, 2022 15:23

Features

Bhutanese actor raise awareness on climate change by cycling through Bhutan

Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk launched The Messenger: Ride for Action, planting trees and talking to everybody.

Nov 25, 2022 15:18

Cordyceps Sinensis, the super mushrooms of Bhutan

Cordyceps Sinensis has many health benefits, which includes being an aphrodisiac.

Sep 25, 2022 16:50

Business

Bhutanese streaming platform Samuh is gaining international recognition

Founder and CEO of Samuh, Nyema Zam, recently won the Business Rice Awards 2022.

Dec 30, 2022 19:15

School in Lhuentse embrace entrepreneurship through Chip Production Unit

Bhutan endeavours to guide their youth towards innovation and creativity. The trickle-down effect has seen Tangmachu Central School’s...

Nov 29, 2022 18:04

Sports

Paro FC wins the 2022 BOB Bhutan Premier League

Paro FC wins third Premier League title in nail biting fashion in final match of the season.

Jan 09, 2023 15:45

More Bhutanese youths are engaged in football

Sitting at the 186th position in the FIFA rankings, Bhutan looks to improve its rankings in the years to come.

Aug 03, 2022 20:19

Travel

A tale of two airports in Bhutan

As the slow pace towards a pre-pandemic world begins, two of the country’s domestic airports are going through their own challenges and...

Nov 03, 2022 16:30

What you need to know about birdwatching in Bhutan

The best seasons and locations for birdwatching in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Sep 25, 2022 16:57

Lifestyle

Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14

COVID-19

A detailed summary of Bhutan's COVID-19 management and plans moving forward

With offices and all businesses open, movement of vehicles allowed and critical services resumed from 21st March 2022, Bhutan braces for a...

Mar 22, 2022 11:23

Vaccinated tourists to undergo 5-day quarantine in Bhutan from April 25

What you need to know about entering Bhutan from April 25.

Mar 14, 2022 14:21

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!