Given the urgency, the country will have temporary quarantine centers with a total capacity of 1,000 beds which are currently under construction and will be completed by the end of September 2021.
There is a 200 bedded quarantine center in Samtse which expected to be completed by the end of August 2021, 400 beds in Phuentsholing is expected to be completed by the end of September, 200 beds in Gelephu to be completed by early September and 200 beds in Samdrup Jongkhar expected to be completed by early September.
These temporary quarantine centers will be operationalized as soon as construction is completed. The temporary quarantine centers will be used until the construction of the permanent quarantine centers are completed.
At the same time, the construction of permanent quarantine centers with a total capacity of 2,500 beds is being pursued in earnest and it will be completed by April 2022. The construction is expected to begin by September 1, 2021.
Of the 2500 beds, 500 beds will be constructed in Samtse and another 500 in Phuentsholing. Sarpang will have 1000 beds with another 500 beds in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Director- of Immigration, Pema L. Dorji who is also a Southern Task Force member said, the temporary and permanent quarantine centers will mitigate the risks of importation, transmission and spread of COVID-19 to the general public as current quarantine facilities at Samtse, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar are located in crowded areas in the middle of the throm and residential areas.
The new centers will facilitate import of much needed foreign workers for the public and private sectors based on government approval. This will alleviate the shortage of quarantine facilities for returnees from abroad, foreign workers, routine travelers and primary contacts during an outbreak. This would also provide a safe, well-organized and conducive environment to quarantine individuals in a secluded area and also enable the import of foreign workers via land ports of entry in an efficient, well-organized and systematic manner through a zoning system based on location of their worksites.
The management and operational modalities of the temporary quarantine centers are being finalized by the Dzongdas of the concerned Dzongkhags with the support of key agencies such as health, RBP/De-Suung, RSTA, immigration, labour and local government functionaries. Some services such as general health screening for foreign workers, laundry, catering, etc. could be outsourced.
The permanent quarantine centers will be fully self-contained with an on-site isolation facility for positive cases, COVID-19 testing, catering, laundry/housekeeping, waste management and a convenience store, among others. All amenities such as internet and television will be provided including on-site end-to-end services such as the mandatory general health screening for foreign workers and provision of immigration services on completion of quarantine as per established protocols. The centers will operate on a public private partnership model integrating the competencies of both the public and private sectors.
Safety and security at both the temporary and permanent quarantine centers remains a high priority and all necessary measures are being taken to ensure the centers are well secured and quarantine individuals comply with protocols and other requirements. The Standard Operating Procedures for facility quarantine approved by the government will be strictly enforced and implemented at the quarantine centers.
The Director said with the emergence of highly virulent variants of the virus, the imperative to reinforce and strengthen quarantine measures and requirements has assumed considerable importance. He said His Majesty The King has been at the forefront of leading and guiding all endeavors to ensure that the nation is not overwhelmed by the pandemic.
“Likewise, His Majesty remains deeply concerned about the welfare and well-being of the people and the state of our economy, which has been adversely impacted,” said Pema L Dorji.
He said that in this context, the construction of the temporary and permanent quarantine centers at four designated land ports of entry is being undertaken by the Royal Government on the Command of His Majesty The King.