390 foreign laborers imported in 28 days while 1,168 are yet to come

33 of 390 tested positive for COVID-19

In 28 days, 390 foreign laborers have entered the country via Phuentsholing. The import of laborers was started on 1 October with directives from the government.

In addition, the government approved entry of 1,168 more laborers for now. The labor import is done according to the demand made by the employers. It was learnt that the laborers who have entered the country are all skilled laborers. 

An official from Labor Ministry based in Phuentsholing said that the need of import of foreign laborers has become very important for the contractors to keep their works going.

He said the import of laborers are being done as per the COVID-19 protocol and they are being monitored from time to time while they are in quarantine facilities, but in doing so, they were some hiccups. He said, “Some laborers did not want to stay with the 21-day quarantine rules but most laborers were ready to follow the protocol to be able to earn good money.”

“Of the total imported laborers, 33 laborers have tested positive for COVID-19 which comes to around 8.5 percent. Since the number of positive cases detected among the laborers is minimum for now, there is nothing to worry about or to panic,” he added.

Though the government approved the import of laborers in July this year, they could not bring in the laborers due to the sudden national lockdown delaying it by two to three months.

It than became challenging for them to bring in the approved laborers on time as they already got enrolled in jobs in their own country making it was hard to find the required number of laborers on time.

He said, “We had a few cases whereby the laborers COVID-19 negative certificate got expired, as it is valid for only 72 hours by the time they reach here.”

Meanwhile, he said that the moment the laborers reach Bhutan gate, they check all the required documents, are directly escorted to holding areas and then to the medical screening center.

“We do thorough medical screening and 11 laborers had some medical issues while the rest, were taken to quarantine facilities where they are being tested every week for COVID-19.”

Those who have tested positive will be monitored as per the health ministry’s protocol.

He said there is no guarantee if a laborer who has tested positive will relapse after coming out, but he said the chances of it happening is very minimal because by the time a person completes his stay in isolation and de-isolation room it would take a long time.

“Few were declared recovered and they are already in construction sites. Since the number of cases detected among the laborers is less we do not have any plan to stop the import of laborers for now,” he said.

The employer will have to bear all the associated cost in bringing in the laborers. 

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