Gradual relaxation of lockdown to prevent spread of Omicron by 37 to 40 percent: TAG

COVID transmission in relaxed Dzongkhags relatively low

During the live session, the member of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), Dr Sonam Wangchuk, said that the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 is not important, but rather the percentage of population testing positive will be the basis on which the precautionary measures are taken.

“Out of the 16 dzongkhags, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 is at 17 percent, and active contact tracing is still going on. Except for Thimphu, most other dzongkhags have fully entered into relaxation mode, as the transmission rate has been observed to be relatively low. Looking at the current situation, it doesn’t seem as worrisome,” said Dr Sonam Wangchuk.

He added that the cases surging despite the lockdown being imposed is observed, but the difference between releasing the lockdown suddenly and easing the lockdown gradually, according to study, results in huge difference in cases detected in the community.

“That’s why, even if it’s for one or two months, the gradual relaxation of lockdown will help in preventing the spread of the virus by 37-40 percent. Like the Prime Minister said, it is impossible to completely eliminate the virus from the community. The current situation is under control for most regions, and we are able to keep providing the necessary health services, thanks to the current pace of the lockdown, otherwise the sudden surge of cases would cripple the health services. Moreover, we do not have enough health personnel to handle sudden surge of cases, if not for the gradual reopening,” said Dr Sonam.

Regarding the quarantine of tourists or foreigners, Dr Sonam said that they are currently kept quarantined for about 14 days. As for those coming from low risk areas, the quarantine period is for one week.

“People’s concern about the foreigners bringing COVID virus like Delta or even other mutated versions of the virus inside the country is valid, and the other countries are still investigating that. Until the situation is clear, we are going to follow the same norms since compared to other regions, Thimphu has relatively lower number of cases. Until we have sufficient data suggesting that it is safe to do away with the quarantine and COVID-19 restrictions, the same norms will be followed for those traveling inside the country,” he added.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk also said that people who have tested positive and have been quarantined are released without testing along with the close contacts of the person who are kept in home quarantine. But if the person shows no sign of recovery or shows severe symptoms then they are taken to other quarantine centers or are hospitalized.

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