New Delhi: While most of the world was in lockdown to stop the coronavirus spread, Loten Zangmo arrived at Bhutan's Paro International Airport on April 13. Although she was relieved to be in her country, she was also anxious about the future.
The 22-year-old student first heard about the pandemic just days before her university in the Indian state of Punjab closed as a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus. At the time, she thought the virus would not last for long. But the Indian government imposed an extensive lockdown to tackle the situation.
Loten was among many foreign nationals stranded on the university campus. After Bhutanese students reached out to their embassy in New Delhi, their government arranged a repatriation flight to bring them back home safely.
"When we reached Paro airport, the officials gave us masks and provided other healthcare facilities. They took us directly to a quarantine facility from the airport," Loten told DW.
In mid-March, Bhutanese authorities mandated a 21-day quarantine period for people entering the country from abroad.
"When (the) first COVID-19 case was detected in the country, we traced his primary contacts within hours," Rui Paulo de Jesus, the World Health Organization's Bhutan representative, told DW.
"Bhutan's Health Ministry acted swiftly right from the beginning, which is one of the reasons why Bhutan could keep COVID-19 at bay," de Jesus said.
"Nevertheless, no country can claim victory at this stage, as the fight against COVID-19 is ongoing. It will be a long battle," he added.