Additional medical personnel and equipment in border areas with lockdown relaxation in India

With the easing of lockdown in India and the COVID-19 cases on rise, the highest risk faced is in the border area. The Ministry of Health (MoH) has divided the risk model for the disease into three categories with different risk exposure; remote, urban and border areas. Maintaining social distancing is easy in remote areas, while in urban areas it is difficult due to large number people living in urban areas. In border areas, there is the risk of outside people entering into the country.

The ministry has deployed a COVID-19 focal person in every dzongkhag, and a task force team in the border areas. Additional medical personnel and medical equipment are sent to the border areas. The ministry is stressing more on the border areas and has been creating awareness to the public on COVID-19 and as well as malaria and dengue. All the health staff and task force members are tested for COVID-19 frequently.

During the recent COVID-19 press brief, Health Minister said the ministry used to test every individual within 24 hours, but now, the frequency has reduced because there are many incoming people from abroad.

Lyonpo also said some of the incoming groups of Bhutanese returning home were already showing symptoms when they were in Middle East. Some of them started to show symptoms after reaching Bhutan. The ministry checks every individual at the airport. And some groups are tested between three to five days after reaching Bhutan.

Those individuals who tested positive said that they lived in packed accommodation in the Middle East where many suffered from flu like symptoms, not knowing whether it was COVID-19 or a mere seasonal flu. They informed the ministry that they were not tested for COVID-19, as the test is not readily available there. While there are some who have tested COVID-19 positive after getting back in country, but it would be difficult to say from where they got infected with the virus, said the Health Minister.

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