Health Minister Dechen Wangmo

Bhutan needs to be on guard and individuals have to be responsible as a second wave of COVID-19 hits the globe: Health Minister

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that globally, countries are beginning to see a second wave of COVID-19 and this is primarily because of the laxity in adherence to preventive measures like hand hygiene, face masks and physical distancing.

She said this is a strong reminder for all on the importance of adhering to preventive measures at all times.

Lyonpo said if people continue moving in and out of Dzongkhags, over-crowd and gather in groups, then there will be a spike in the number of cases detected. So in order to prevent the first and the second wave in the country, people must adhere with the COVID-19 norms and minimize traveling as far as possible and similarly gatherings and follow the health protocols.

“People must know that wearing face masks and following COVID-19 protocols is for themselves, for their family, for the beloved King and the country,” said Lyonpo.

The Health Minister has been emphasizing on the proper wearing of mask in every press brief. She said wearing face masks properly is very important and has a much greater impact. The quality of face masks and the proper usage of masks are the two critical aspects of wearing face masks.

Lyonpo said that people must be wondering what could be the second wave of COVID-19, but as per experts there is a new coronavirus strain that originated from Spain and spread across Europe.

She said that Bhutan is a small country and its health system is not so strong, so it is very important for all to prevent the virus from coming in and every individual can help each other in prevention.

Lyonpo said that the common belief that young people will not be severely affected by COVID-19 is not true. In a case study among more than 3,200 adults ages of 18 to 34 who were hospitalized with the disease, 21 percent required Intensive Care, 10 percent required mechanical ventilation and 3 percent (88 patients) died.

Health minister said there are two kinds of responsibility. Responsibility of the government is to make testing readily available and accessible. In terms of making it readily available, the country has adequate sets of test kits and it has distributed test kits in all the 54 flu clinics and in other health facilities. The government is spending almost 12 dollars per test kits.

She said the second responsibility of the government is treatment. The country has designated 482 COVID-19 ward beds and at any given point of time, country will be able to manage treat these patients. There are 42 ICU beds for COVID and not a single ICU bed is used. All the health workers are trained on ICU management, managing COVID-19 and use of PPE.

The greater responsibility on the individual is seeking the services in testing and also working on prevention by following the COVID-19 protocols.

Meanwhile there are around 200 candidates who are working on COVID-19 vaccines and out of which 47 candidates has reached the third phase where the vaccine can be tried on humans but it is not yet approved by WHO.

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