Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bhutan orders nationwide lockdown

Bhutan orders nationwide lockdown

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
This photo taken on April 19, 2019 shows traffic backed up on a road in Bhutan's capital Thimphu. AFP

Bhutan orders nationwide lockdown

Bhutan has been largely shielded from coronavirus but on Tuesday, the remote Himalayan kingdom which is famous for measuring gross national happiness went into lockdown for the first time.

The country of 800,000 people, located between India and China, has recorded just 113 novel coronavirus cases and is one of the few nations to report zero deaths.

The lockdown ordered in the early hours of Tuesday allows only essential services for an initial five to six days, said Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, a doctor who continues to practice on weekends.

“Everyone is asked to stay home to protect themselves from the disease, should there be undetected, rampant transmissions,” a statement from his office said.

The announcement came after a Bhutanese woman who had returned from Kuwait and was released from quarantine after 30 days, tested positive around 10 days later.

Three rapid antibody tests were positive during her time in quarantine, throughout which she was asymptomatic. But six PCR tests were all negative and she was discharged on July 26.

A seventh PCR test came back positive on Monday and since leaving quarantine, the woman was found to have travelled extensively in Bhutan, mixing with family and friends and even shopping.

As of midday, the health ministry had traced 210 people suspected to have come in contact with her, the prime minister’s office said.

The lockdown decision was made in a meeting by the virus task force that, according to the prime minister’s office, stayed in touch with Bhutan’s king “throughout the night”.

After the announcement, many people rushed to the shops to buy essential items like rice, vegetables, eggs, vegetable oil and tobacco.

Karma Tenzin, a resident of the capital Thimphu, said he was well prepared as the government had warned people to be ready for weeks.

“So I had already stocked my kitchen with food and other necessary items to prepare for the lockdown,” he said.


  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.

  • PM urges end to ‘baseless’ international Ream base accusations

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urges an end to “baseless” foreign accusations surrounding the development of the Kingdom’s Ream Naval Base, as the US has consistently suggested that the base is being expanded to accommodate a Chinese military presence. Hun Sen renewed his calls while

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the