His Majesty The King speaks to a woman at her home in Thongling village of Sampheling gewog in Chukha. Along the 699 km of border that we share with India, there are many such villages where Bhutanese homes are a stone’s throw away from Indian neighbours, with a border that is open.

His Majesty back after Royal Tour of Chukha and Samtse

His Majesty The King came back in Thimphu on 9th August after a two-week Royal Tour of the south to review and reinforce security measures in place, with active COVID-19 cases on the rise in the neighborhood. His Majesty visited the border areas to personally talk to the people about the growing threat of community transmissions.

While the borders have been closed since the 23rd of March, several instances of people clandestinely crossing the border and avoiding quarantine have shown that the border areas are particularly vulnerable to an outbreak, and the community needs to be vigilant and prepared. 

Armed forces personnel, Desuups, forestry officials, and officials from customs, immigration, and land commission, together with retired armed forces personnel and community volunteers have been patrolling the long and porous borders since the closure. From about 200 Desuups patrolling the border in Samtse a month ago, the number has now been increased to over 400. Several CCTV cameras have been installed on all strategic locations to assist the volunteers. New outposts have also been setup in an effort to increase vigilance.    

In Samtse, His Majesty met with people living in villages near the border in Ugyentse, Yoeseltse, Sang-Ngag-Chhoeling, and Tashichhoeling gewogs. His Majesty also visited shops in Samtse town to see how the pandemic has affected local businesses. 

His Majesty thanked the local leaders of Samtse and people living along the border for their continuous efforts in making sure Bhutanese do not come in contact with the virus. His Majesty reiterated to the local leaders that going forward, settlements along the border should be extra cautious and continue their good efforts.

In Phuentsholing, where the temperatures have soared to over 40 degrees Celsius this past week, His Majesty walked across six villages along the border in Sampheling gewog, meeting people and reminding them of the dangers if the virus spreads in the community. While going from village to village, His Majesty also visited all the outposts along the way and met with volunteers on patrol duty.

His Majesty visited high risk areas close to the Phuentsholing border and Jharna, between Pasakha and Phuentsholing. His Majesty also granted Audiences to gups and mangmis from 11 gewogs of Chhukha dzongkhag, and frontline workers in Phuentsholing. Thanking them for their services at a time when they were most needed, His Majesty Commanded them to continue their efforts with increased vigour.

The Ministry of Health  performed  over 16,000 random rapid diagnostics tests (RDT) to rule out any possible community transmission of COVID-19. The random samples included frontline workers, people living and working near the border, truck and taxi drivers, out-patients in hospitals, students and staff of schools and institutions, and factory workers. All RDT results have come out negative.  

Meanwhile, in the past month, His Majesty granted Audiences to Desuups of the 41st batch accelerated training programme at Damthang, Jigmeling, Pelrithang, Tashigatshel, Tashichhoeling, Tendruk, Tencholing, Shaba, and Dechencholing. With the completion of the current batch, the total number of Desuups will reach 14,844. Volunteers from the 3 batches of accelerated training programme have been instrumental in providing relief to those who have been on patrol duty at the borders since March. 

His Majesty was accompanied by the Prime Minister, Chief Operations Officer of the RBA, and Chief of RBP during the tour.

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