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Complaints from Quarantine Facilities are mainly around food and blankets

There are reports of maximum complaints from the Quarantine Facilities (QF) with regard to unhygienic food and poor infrastructure.

People complain

Meanwhile, Kezang Dema who stayed in one of the hotels in Thimphu shared, “Government is paying a lot, and I am sure the hoteliers whose hotels are being used as quarantine facilities are benefiting.”

However, she said that even when they are paid well, when other small businesses are suffering, the kind of treatment they get in the QF is disheartening due to insufficient food and blankets.

This doesn’t apply to all the quarantine facilities, she said, adding that as far as she is concerned she is not happy with how she was treated.

“Especially in peak winter, at least they should provide people with enough blankets and heaters. They wouldn’t give, even after repeated requests, and at some point of the time, people on duty will not respond to our calls,” she added.

At the end of the day, it is government and people who are at loss, she said.

Tshering stayed in quarantine for 21 days in one of the hotels in Paro, and as far as he remembers, he was served with unhygienic and cold food most of the time, which is why he asked his relatives and friends to drop homemade food and grocery items, noodles most of the time.

He said, “It was difficult to keep asking my parents to deliver a food all the way from Thimphu, but I was lucky to have a few friends and relatives in Paro who constantly brought me something to fill my stomach.”

Otherwise, it would be hard to sustain on what they used to get. Half bottle water per meal was provided and the food was poor both in terms of quantity and quality, he added.

Ugyen who stayed in quarantine along with his wife and child shared that their situation for a week was pathetic, as they did not get enough food to eat and a proper room to sleep. He said, “I know government is battling the virus at their best, and it would be shameful to even ask, but I think they should monitor the situation in the quarantine.”

People have raised their concerns on this through the social media, but the hoteliers played innocent, defending it to be not true. With the treatment they got from the quarantine facilities, the amount should not exceed Nu 500 for budget and Nu 700 for star hotels, he added.

Likewise, there are many who have shared the same grievances on the matter. This is not fair, they claimed. The quantity of the food decreased each day and by the end the quantity become almost half than the usual quantity.

On the other hand, there are people who were treated well. Rabten, a civil servant said that the quality wasn’t too bad and they did get what they have asked for. 

He said, “I was quarantined in Phuentsholing, and I got warm food, but the food hygiene was average.”

The water was sufficient though, he said, adding that it would be nice if they inform people about them having access to get extra items apart from the menu, but of course making clear on the charges that they will have to pay.

“I stayed in a budget hotel, and I did not have any issues during my stay. The quantity and quality of the food was good as well and the infrastructure in the room was also good. So, I was happy,”  another said.

There are many who took to their social media thanking both the government and hoteliers for making their stay in the quarantine comfortable. Studying the matter, people said that the situation seems to depend on the kind of hotel because all the people do not face the same situation.

How it is managed

An official from the Cabinet Secretariat has shared that there are 30 to 40 quarantine centers in every dzongkhag, and the centers are monitored by two groups of DeSuups, Quarantine Facility Manager (QFM) group who would respond to Quarantine Individuals (QI) and a security group.  

Given the shortage of QF in the country, he said, having to facilitate to 50-60 people in each QF is challenging, in terms of serving good quality logistics.

They are doing things as per the health protocol, and quarantine management is monitored by logistic desk, health desk, security desk and frontline responding desk.

He said, “We have been receiving complaints from people on food, to which we are intervening at the earliest. We wanted to blacklist few of the hotels, but given the shortage of quarantine facilities, with increase in number of cases, we did not. However, we keep requesting them to improve.”

He further said that during the lockdown, they have received more complaints on food because it was hard to deliver whatever was listed, and they had to deliver whatever was available in the market.

They have received a few complaints on not having enough blankets and heaters in room to which hoteliers were requested to stock up and provide the items whenever needed by QI, he said.

“It is hard to monitor the QF, but DeSuups on duty are monitoring with full diligence and we get their feedback few times in a week,” he added.

An official from the health desk said that they responded to every call from both QF and Isolation Facilities (IF) and accordingly they provide them the medical services. There are nurses in the IF while there are no nurses in the QF.

“We have a mobile medical team for the QF who attends to medical issues from the QI. It is not true that we do not attend to medical complaints from the QF, but there might be few cases that we must have missed out. It is that people are not satisfied with our services,” he added.

He further said that if patients in the quarantine facilities are not in serious health condition then just the medicines are delivered to them. However, if a patient requires immediate medical attention then a medical team in full PPEs is sent to take care of the patient.

“Some people demand immediate medical intervention, but we facilitate only if the patient is serious,” he said.

Hotels respond

Meanwhile, talking to some hoteliers, they have shared that they give it their best to make them comfortable.

They said it is hard for the hoteliers to manage everything within the government budget for running the quarantine. The hoteliers stated that they have been doing their best.  

They claimed that they do inform the people about having access to extra items, which will be charged on individual upon completing their quarantine.

They also claimed, “We give them all the available facilities and try to facilitate to each of their needs but sometimes their demands are too high that we fail at some point of time. They call at midnight asking for water and extra blankets and a person on duty sometimes fails to take them.”

Some people damage the hotel property and if the damage is big then they charge them, but only some people pay while some refuse to own up and pay for the damages, they claimed.

“The food sometimes seems to be reaching cold, and having to pack and deliver to many people at a same time can be one factor. It gets cold, in winter particularly. Otherwise, our intention is not to serve them cold meals. However, we will try to improve our services,” they added.

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