Complacency over hand washing, a worrying trend in the country

As the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 ravages the world with an alarming rate of hospitalisations, most of the countries are reinforcing restrictions and some even resorting to lockdowns. However, Bhutanese seems to become more complacent by the day, especially after receiving the second dose of the COVID vaccine. 

If you walk in Thimphu town, it is hard to come by a handwashing station in every shop. Although the safety protocol mandates every shop to install one, it is evident that not everyone is adhering to the norm.

Although most of the shops have installed the facility, BBS found out that some stations are dry and while some don’t have soap.

According to some shopkeepers, with many customers visiting their shops, it is difficult to monitor every one of them. And some said customers get angry when asked to follow safety measures.

“People come in a group and some even don’t wear face masks. We have also kept water outside the shop, but some get angry when we asked to wear a mask and wash hands,” said Dorji Pem, a store owner.

As per a member of the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, Dr Sonam Wangchuk, the hand is the dirtiest part of the body and washing them regularly will drastically reduce the risks of infection.

“Wearing a facemask, maintaining physical distance, washing hands, and avoiding crowds have health benefits beyond COVID transmission or any respiratory diseases,” he said.

However, not all violate safety protocols. Other sections of the society religiously follow the safety measures and also let others follow.

The violators, however, don’t represent the entire society. A security guard with one of the banks is at its best, diligently following the norms and letting their clients follow. From washing hands to scanning Druk Trace to checking body temperature, he does it dutifully.

It has been observed that people became more complacent, ever since the country rolled out the second jab of the COVID vaccine. However, according to the latest data from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), even a fully vaccinated person can become infected by the Delta variant.

According to Dr Sonam Wangchuk, even an individual who has received both doses of the vaccine can contract the virus and spread it to others. Therefore, he said washing hands is the easiest measure.

“Once you are infected, the current evidence suggests that you will have more viral load which is why even the Centre of Disease Control (CDC) is going back to the mandatory mask-wearing,” he added.

As the resurgence of COVID-19 goes on crippling the health systems across the globe, Bhutan cannot afford to let its guard down but instead strengthen the efforts that will keep all of us safe.

Kinzang Lhadon 

Edited by Chayku

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