Bhutan Declares Its First Coronavirus Lockdown As Cases Top 100

Bhutan Declares Its First Coronavirus Lockdown As Cases Top 100

August 12, 2020 Off By Heather Chen

The small landlocked Himalayan nation of Bhutan ordered its first nationwide coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday, August 11, after a citizen returned from Kuwait and tested positive for the virus.

The citizen—a 27-year-old woman from the town of Gelephu, which runs along the Indian border—tested positive for the coronavirus after being discharged from quarantine, Reuters reported.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tsherin announced the lockdown on social media on August 11, saying that the woman had “close contact” with people in the towns of Gelephu and Thimpu, the nation’s capital.

The prime minister’s office announced on Facebook that the health ministry had identified over 200 people that may have come into contact with the woman.

The newest infection brings the nation’s total number of cases to 113 since the start of the pandemic. The largely Buddhist nation has recorded no deaths from the virus.

Schools, government buildings, and private offices would be closed under the lockdown, the government said. Movement among the nation’s roughly 750,000 residents has been restricted and people are required to stay at home with limited exceptions.

The environmentally conscious country, which relies on “high value, low impact” tourism, has restricted international travel due to the pandemic.

Bhutan is known for its impressive mountain monasteries and for pioneering the concept of a Gross National Happiness index, which measures its population’s overall wellbeing.

The country closed its borders to tourism in March after recording its first coronavirus case—a 76-year-old American traveler. Observers have attributed the country’s low number of coronavirus cases and deaths to strict measures implemented early on in its outbreak.