Panic grips Bhutan after first case found on tourist


  • AseanPlus News
  • Monday, 09 Mar 2020

Fire sale: People gathering at a store for face masks as the first Covid-19 infection was detected in a tourist in Thimpu. — Kuensel/ANN

Thimpu: Two men arguing over cutting lines nearly turned ugly as they rushed to buy face masks at a local pharmacy store in Thimphu yesterday.

The incident took place after people began to cut lines that started as early as 7am. By 10am, the drugstore ran out of face masks.

Another medical store saw a bigger crowd rushing for the limited face masks and hand sanitiser stock.

“I wasn’t lucky enough after visiting three medical stores around. I hope to get a few here,” said a customer.

Kuenphen Pharmacy that ran out of hand sanitiser solutions since March 5 sold more than 30,000 pieces of face masks. The store also sold more than 100 litres of antiseptic solutions.

Namsey Pharmacy sold more than 300 pieces of face masks including antiseptic solutions and other medications for cold.

There are more than 20 pharmacy outlets in Thimphu today.

The mass hysteria was caused following the confirmation of the first positive Covid-19 case in a 76-year-old American tourist in Thimphu, made public early yesterday morning.

While many managed to get the masks, those arriving after 10am had to return empty handed. Besides the face masks, hand sanitisers, surgical gloves and antiseptic solutions sold like hot cakes yesterday.

A college graduate, Tempa Gyeltshen, said that had the government heeded to the public’s call to stop tourist entry more than a month ago, this situation could have been avoided.

“When developed countries put in travel restriction, we were confident with our preparedness. Look where we are now,” said the 20-year-old. “The tourist could have put many to risk after he visited three dzongkhags. This is very worrying.”

In line with the first confirmed positive case, popular convenience store, 8Eleven Super Market in Thimphu closed doors for customers yesterday.

Store officials said that the move was to safeguard its staffs against the virus detected in the locality.

However, those in need of emergency supplies were given the groceries after taking orders from outside the entrance. — Kuensel/ANN

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