COVID-19 surveillance sites increased from 11 to 50

There are 59 COVID-19 cases, in Bhutan as of 9 June. The Ministry of Health (MoH) reported that 17 patients have recovered from the disease. There are 42 active cases till date, of which 22 patients are placed in the isolation ward and 20 are in de-isolation. As of 6th June  19,348 samples were tested. A total of 5,927 were tested with RT-PCR and 13,421 with Rapid Test Kits.

During the COVID-19 press brief, Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said COVID-19 is not an ordinary disease that will go away within a few weeks’ time or within months. Lyonpo said the novel coronavirus will be around unless there is vaccination as protection against it.

So it is important for the ministry to come up with plans, such as increasing the COVID-19 surveillance medical centers from 11 to about 50 to test the samples taken from symptomatic people.

In the surveillance site, all the people with flu like symptoms are checked for COVID-19. If a person tests positive through RT-PCR, then the person is declared as COVID-19 positive.

Earlier RT-PCR test was done only in Thimphu, and later the testing lab expanded to Phuentsholing and Mongar. A testing lab is to be set up in Gelephu as well. Similarly rapid test facilities will be available in all 20 dzongkhags. Meanwhile, doctors and clinical management team meet online via Zoom to discuss in all the cases everyday.

So far 7,630 people were placed under quarantine. As of 6th June there are 1009 people in facility quarantine.

There are 58 hotels used as quarantine centers. Lyonpo said people who have finished their 21 days quarantine, especially those coming in from high risk countries, are kept further under medical surveillance for a week, in case they should develop any flu like symptom.

Daily medical follow up is conducted on the 460 people who have finished the 21 days quarantine.

Lyonpo said 63 quarantine defaulters have been put into quarantine so far. The defaulters will bear their own cost of quarantine, and additionally serve 10 days of community service.

Recently, 3 people who finished quarantine had to be put back in quarantine after they took things for friends in quarantine in Paro. The ministry request all not to go around or near the quarantine facilities.

Lyonpo said COVID-19 is an opportunity to change public health behavior, like spitting or sneezing openly, which is a very risky behavior, especially in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. As for Druk Trace App, Lyonpo said that most people are using it and as well as maintaining physical distancing.

“High time that people should adjust to the new norms because there is no community transmission for now, but it is likely that it can happen anytime since the cases in the neighboring Indian states are increasing,” the Health Minister said, and further added, “The ministry has been requesting the public to use facemasks, and they should get used to wearing facemasks from now on itself before community transmission. It is for the safety of you and your family.”

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