Taxi drivers line up to get tested at YHS in Thimphu on day 3 of the Thimphu lockdown

Bhutan sees a total of 32 community transmission cases in 3 days of lockdown of which 26 cases are in Thimphu

Early on Sunday morning or 20th December social media was abuzz with rumors of a lockdown in Thimphu due a to a positive case being detected. People went rushing to buy vegetables and other necessities.

Sure enough, well before 9 am came the announcement for a lockdown along with the news that a 25-year-old woman in Thimphu had tested positive in the flu clinic.

By the evening of 20th December the news was that in addition to the 25-year-old 7 more of the first contacts in the form of her uncle, aunty, four children and a friend of the uncle had tested positive.

The Prime Minister said that the virus was relatively new in the infected people and he surmised that the girl may not have brought the virus from Gelephu where she came from two weeks ago and spent a week in quarantine clearing tests, but she may have got it from the family.

The PM said a total of 800 people have been contact traced so far in connection to the 8 positive cases. 1,683 people have been trace so far through the Druk Trace App. Around 1,100 people are being tested from the locality where they lived.

By the morning of 21st December more bad new came as including the 7 who tested positive there was now 20 new local or community transmission cases not counting a case in a quarantine facility in Thimphu.

The breakup of these 20 cases not including the girl are as follows. Of around 1,000 tested in Chubachu area 12 cases were from Chubachu cluster and 2 cases from Sabzi Bazar areawho are close contacts. 4 tested positive from the Bhutan Telecom area of the 269 tested.

Of 160 tested in schools none were positive.

37 were tested in Punakha and 2 came positive.The uncle and his daughters had gone there for some rituals.

Lyonpo Dasho Dechen Wangmo in a press conference announced that given the high cases the Chubachu area would be placed in a red zone with restrictions along with the area in Punakha under Tobesa Gewog.

Lyonpo said there will be mass screening in Thimphu but it will be decided on who will be tested. MoH, NSB and Zoning teams are working together to draw up samples that will give the best representation.

The minister said around 38,000 people left from Thimphu for 20 Dzongkhags from 7th December. She requested them all to register with the nearest health facility and get tested. Tests can be done by health facilities from BHU upwards.

If all 38,000 test negative she said they will know it has not spread to other Dzongkhags.

She said temporary flu clinics have been set up in Nima High School for north Thimphu and Changrigphel school for south Thimphu and two more are coming up in addition to the existing one at the RBP ground

Lyonpo said they will do cluster testing for risk groups like taxi and bus drivers. One of the positive people was a taxi driver.

On the morning of 22nd December there was 12 new COVID-19 cases with cases in Thimphu, Paro and Lhamoizingkha

They recorded seven cases in Thimphu with five from Thimphu flu clinic and two from first contacts, three from Paro flu clinic, one in Lhamoizingkha and one at a quarantine facility in Phuentsholing.

In this light, the government said it will stop all inter-district travel of both vehicles and people with immediate effect. Essential movements and exit of export materials will be facilitated with close monitoring by Royal Bhutan Police.

The government requested everyone to refrain from coming out of homes, unless really necessary.

Paro went into a lockdown. Of the 3 cases in Paro two are a mother and daughter staying in Shabha high school. The mother had traveled to Thimphu earlier. The third one is a teacher at the Khangkhu middle secondary school.

The one case in Lhamoizingkha is a woman staying in a relatively remote place. She did not travel for around a week outside her area. The area has been cordoned off for now.

This means that by day three of the Thimphu lockdown there were a total of 32 cases either linked to the Thimphu case or found in flu clinics indicating not only a cluster spread but also a degree of community transmission. Of the 32 cases the majority of 26 cases are in Thimphu with 3 in Paro, 2 in Punakha and one in Lhamoizingkha.

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