Bhutan gets a Jomotsangkha scare and reminder

Initial positive in Rapid Test Kit and a final negative in RT-PCR test

Just when Bhutan was celebrating its long run since 6th March without any case of local or community transmission a nasty jolt came all the way from Jomotsangkha in Samdrupjongkhar.

A local shopkeeper tested positive on Thursday evening in a rapid test kit as part of a larger test for all vulnerable communities along the southern border. The Ministry of Health has sent three teams for this and they are currently in Samtse, Phuentsholing and Samdrupjongkhar to do tests.

The sample was sent for confirmatory RT-PCR test to the laboratory in Mongar and nation waited with bated breath.

However, around 10.30 pm friday the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said the suspect, tested negative on PCR. For preventive measures, the Dungkhag will remain under isolation for one week.

Earlier Health Minister Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that if this had been a case of community transmission then it had all the plans and preparations in place to take according steps. Around 60 people have already been tested in Jomotsangkha as part of high risk community surveillance and man who initially tested positive was one of the people who were tested.

One major hope that a lot of people had clung onto was to point out to the false positive of the Rapid Test kit. In fact, two Dessups who tested positive in a rapid test kit in Gelephu came out negative when RT-PCR was done.

However, here the Health Minister clarified to the paper that at that time there was an inaccuracy probably due to the way the blood was collected and put in the sample.

She said that to avoid such errors that process was eliminated and now only the serum is extracted and tested in the Rapid Test Kit.

She said that the one way for the person to test negative in the RT-PCR tests was if he suffered from Dengue or other viral ailments or there was some other error.

The Health Minister earlier said that the person had first contact with 60 to 70 people, but given that he was a shop keeper he must have had some form of contact or the other with all 1,900 people there as all the people would have gone to his shop as some point or the other.

While the final result came negative it came as valuable reminder on the dangers of community transmission and the need to secure Bhutan’s borders.

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