Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo

Current COVID strain more transmissible and more oxygen required: MoH Minister

587 cases from the community since last seven weeks

A total of 1,826 COVID-19 cases reported in the country so far, out of which there are 358 active cases in seven dzongkhags. Until Friday quarantine facilities in Thimphu had one positive case, Phuentsholing had 71 active cases, Paro had 28 cases, Samtse had 50 cases, Samdrup Jongkhar had 173 cases, Samdrup Jongkhar throm had 28 cases, Dewathang had 27 cases, Jomotshangkha had 108 cases. Mongar had 7 cases and Trashigang had 7 cases and Merak had 14.

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said patients needing oxygen have increased as compared to before, but now all the patients are doing well.

A total of 853 positive cases were detected starting from the first lockdown till friday. Out of 853 positive cases, 266 cases are from outside, a total of 587 cases are from the community which are from four dzongkhags, Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse and Trashigang. These places are labelled as high risk areas from the beginning itself.

From 587 cases, 78 percent are the primary contacts.

Lockdown was imposed on April 16 in Phuentsholing Thromde and after 21 days, mass testing was conducted where 4 individuals tested positive and after that the lockdown was lifted. The second lockdown was imposed on May 18-19, again as 4 individuals tested positive while doing mass testing. Some tested positive from the flu clinic in Phuentsholing. A total of 290 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 in Phuentsholing, out of which, 191 individuals were primary contacts and 91 cases detected from the community and of this 41 were from the flu clinic.

The Health Minister said earlier the cases detected were very less from the community and now the numbers are quite high including cases detected from the flu clinic. Lyonpo said this shows the situation is getting a little worse.

Similarly, one case was detected from the quarantine center on April 26 in Samdrupjongkhar and after the first detection on this day, a total of 40 cases have been reported so far. Out of 40 cases, 9 are from the community and 21 are primary contacts. The dzongkhag is managing well and now the lockdown is lifted.

While testing people who travelled from high risk to low risk areas, Merak reported one case on May 20 and from there, Jomotshangkha reported 165 cases so far. 7 cases are from the community and 153 are the primary contacts.

Samtse reported a positive case from the flu clinic on May 12. After that cases were detected from the four gewogs. There is a total of  78 cases in Samtse Dzongkhag. Tashichhoeling gewog reported 4 positive cases, Norbugang gewog reported 25 cases, Phuentshopelri gewog reported 19 cases and Sangacholing reported one positive case who is a frontliner.

The health ministry has enhanced surveillance to detect positive cases as early as possible.

In May, Trashigang reported positive cases from Merak while testing people who travelled from high risk to low risk areas. So far 40 positive cases have been detected, 15 cases are from the community and 20 are primary contacts.

The Health Minister acknowledged that people in Phuentsholing are suffering as they have stayed almost 50 days under lockdown and thanked the people for their cooperation in following the protocols.

Almost 4,000 people were tested during the mass testing in Mega Zone III and no one tested positive. And after that mass testing will be done on Mega Zone I and II. If positive cases are detected, the cases will be studied whether it is a new case or re-infection cases. According to that, the ministry will make plans. If it is a new case in the community then again 21 days lockdown will be imposed.

Officials from His Majesty’s Relief Kidu are in the Phuentsholing and they are finding out people who are suffering and in need of Kidu. The ministry is also working on the stranded people in Phuentsholing and Trashigang to send them back to their dzongkhags.

The DGPC office in Phuentsholing will soon be able to accommodate around 200 COVID-19 patients.

Mass testing in Merak has also started and if there are no positive cases detected then lockdown will be lifted.

The Health Minister said it will be difficult to manage the COVID-19 if the positive cases increase, knowing the limited health specialist and resources. It is challenging for people living in border areas.

The current disease is different from earlier one and it is highly transmissible. The health ministry requests the public to avoid gathering and travelling unless it is necessary and to visit the flu clinic if they have flu-like symptoms.

She said in most of the cases detected so far they had not gone to the flu clinic despite having symptoms.

The Health Minister also said there a rapidly spreading new variant globally called Delta Variant (B.1.617 first detected in India), and if this variant spreads among school going children then they will be affected the most. It is of great concern and so the ministry is relooking at the guidelines.

 Lyonpo said that people in Thimphu, Paro, Gasa and other places should not relax and think the virus is not there as one never knows. She said people should not gather in groups and they should mask up and follow protocols as even if there is an outbreak it would mean less people in the isolation centers and less spread of the virus.

Lyonpo said that His Majesty The King is traveling in the eastern border areas as His Majesty is worried about the impact on the people if an outbreak happens there. The Prime Minister is there as well.

The minister also thanked the MPs in Parliament for being sensitive to COVID-19 prevention measures while discussing the budget and economic projects.

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