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Bhutan and Its COVID Preparedness Plan’s Success Story.

Bhutan announced its one week vaccination campaign in early April 2021, and inoculated almost 62% of its eligible population by making a record of the world’s fastest immunisation programme.

As countries all over the world grapple with the second wave of the deadly COVID 19, Bhutan emerged as an example of a state that proved the worthiness of the ‘waking up early’. It managed to check the spread, low infection rate and a good rate of recovery. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), applauded the early and bold steps that the country had taken that contributed to its exceptional management of the virus. 

Bhutan was a part of the emergency preparedness programme in 2018 organised by the WHO that involved setting up health centres that would operate in times of a crisis. Even when the information about the virus was shared, Bhutan began its preparations to deal with a prospective situation. According to the official website of the WHO, simulation exercises were held at the Paro International Airport in Bhutan to visualise a situation in which a COVID positive patient landed in the country. This was before the outbreak had been declared officially. As soon as January 2019, Bhutan launched a National Preparedness and Response Plan though there had been no cases found by then.

The country has worked efficiently on its vaccination campaign and continues to utilise the efforts that were put in the establishment of the Royal Centre of Disease Control(RCDC). RCDC was another initiative taken in collaboration with the WHO. Measures like training of staff, delivery of equipments and the funding support were all included in the emergency measures preparedness programme that WHO facilitated in Bhutan. Bhutan is a country that depends on tourism as an important source of revenue. While the pandemic did have an adverse impact, the government and authorities ensure that timely measures were taken towards safe tourism in future. The Tourism Council of Bhutan has maintained a track of the tourists and has been updating their official website about the data related to them. Strict protocols were put in place. 

According to the reports, there have been 870 covid positive cases in the country with one death. Bhutan received 550,000 doses of vaccines from India in two instalments. The plan was to finish the entire process of vaccination in one go and was executed in a similar manner. The government of Bhutan thanked India for the timely delivery of the vaccines. 

Bhutan has succeeded in containing the spread of the virus due to its initial conscious caution. Moreover, it adhered to the WHO guidelines completely and took swift actions to check the situation in the initial phase itself and thus escaped the stress and difficulties that its neighbouring countries are facing. The government expects to complete its total vaccination drive in a week which will again be one of a kind achievement.