Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi

1-week lockdown enough for contact tracing and mass testing: OL

The Opposition party has proposed three recommendations to the government on the COVID-19 measures. The first is Re-strategizing COVID-19 Management and Lockdown-keeping lockdowns short and effective.

On the first recommendation the Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi said that the party is unaware of demands by some in the public to lift the lockdown, but based on the previous two lockdowns, particularly the prolonged second lockdown, and the lessons acquired from those events, the government should have created a new method of dealing with the outbreak.

He said that what the party generally observed is that not all regions are impacted uniformly, for example, in Wangdue just Bajo is affected, not the other parts of Wangdue, so in contrast to performing mass testing after three weeks or so they could really do in a week.

“We could do a mass testing in Bajo town during that one week, and you’d be able to tell how many individuals are affected in that region. And those individuals can be isolated and quarantined. After a week or five days, they can open the town. What really is happening at the moment is that there are a few cases, and the government simply keeps tracing contacts, and then it goes on and on, and only after two or three weeks do they begin mass testing, and you still find some cases, and the lockdown continues, so we propose a shorter but more effective lockdown,” he said.

He said that when you do the lockdown for a week, do it completely and then do whatever more you need to do, whether it’s contact tracing or mass testing, in a week, and then the lockdown can be lifted once you’ve identified the positive cases.

“When positive cases are reported from a particular area, they conduct contact tracing, but contact tracing does not trace everyone, so you start mass testing of the specific area after two or three weeks, only to discover that there are people who are not the contacts and tested positive, so we need to innovate and change our strategy so that we do not have to go through prolonged lockdown,” he said.

He added, “Currently, we say mass testing, contact tracing, and third jab, and we are unable to open up because of vulnerable children who are not vaccinated, and there is a danger, therefore we should expedite children’s vaccination. The longer the lockdown continues, the greater the damage to the nation and the economy.”

On the second recommendation the opposition party proposed the government to review, streamline and prepare the health services throughout the country, starting with national referral and regional referral hospitals on a priority basis, in keeping with the needs of the changing circumstances imposed by the pandemic and emerging requirements.

The party said it is concerned about the recent incident of the death of a 34-year old woman, referred from Phuentsholing Hospital to JDWNRH, who is reported to have succumbed due to logistical and medical negligence.

The party called the government to provide full explanations to the nation on the incident, embrace accountability and put measures to avoid such mishaps in future.

On the third recommendation, the party proposed the government to formulate a comprehensive economic recovery plan including specific revival plans for key economic sectors like tourism, hotels and hospitality, construction, industries, SMEs, exports, etc., and accord the highest priority to employment generation. It said the cabinet members not actively engaged in COVID-19 management could productively invest their time and efforts on this.  

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