Enough food supplies are available despite some initial panic

How Thimphu, Paro and Punakha Dzongkhag administrations have prepared for COVID-19

With one positive case of COVID-19 confirmed in the country, Dzongkhags across the nation are on a high alert and all precautionary measures are being put in place to contain the virus from spreading.

The Dzongda of Thimphu Dzongkhag, Dorji Tshering said that the public have been notified and health officials briefed to tackle the situation in the dzongkhags.

“We have notified the public to abstain from travelling and avoid mass gathering. We have also requested the public to immediately visit the hospital if they have fever or symptoms of cough and flu. Health officials across the country were also briefed on the issue and directed to refer suspected cases to JDWNRH,” the Dzongda said.

He said that as precautionary measure students in boarding schools across the nation were told to be taken care of by their respective teachers. They have also directed schools to stockpile their rations should an emergency occur in the wake of the first outbreak.

“Schools will remain closed until the virus is eradicated and students in boarding schools are being looked after by their respective teachers and principals. We have also instructed them to refrain from travelling, unless it is an emergency, and to stock their rations or inform us if they ran out of essential commodities,” the Dzongda added.

Karma Drukpa, Dzongda of Punakha, said that so far everything is under control and public are being notified about the safety and precautionary measures.

“The infected foreigner is in Thimphu and being isolated and that we have also issued notifications to schools and the public regarding the same. With the ongoing Tshechhu festival we have requested people to take extreme safety measures and not to panic about the situation but to take precaution. If suspected cases arise then they will be quarantined,” he said.

Tenzin Thinley, Dzongda of Paro also said that the public have been notified and told to observe precaution.

“We have requested the public to avoid mass gathering and if possible to stay at home and reduce movements,” he said, adding that they have not restricted tourist from entering the Dzong as of now.

He added that guides and caregivers working in the Dzong are being provided with masks and hand sanitizers as tourists are still allowed to enter the Dzong premises.

He further added that the dzongkhag has designated a separate room for quarantine should a suspected case be reported.

“We have also emptied the Paro College of Education and it will be allotted for patients who are suspected to be infected,” he said.

The health officer and media focal person of Phuentsholing Drungkhag, Passang Tshering, said that they are rigorously screening people at the entry points to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

“We have started screening people from last month and an average of 42,000 people are being screened every single day,” he said.

He said that health staff, dessups and officials from customs and Bhutan Agriculture and food Regulatory Authority are using non- contact infrared thermometers and thermal scanners to screening people entering through the border gates.

“We are screening people from four entry points in Phuentsholing town where we have two main gates for vehicle entry and another two for pedestrians,” he said.

As per the National Preparedness and Response Plan, with the detection of first confirmed case of COVID-19, the country stepped into “Orange” zone. The zone is defined as having one or more isolated confirmed cases without secondary transmission.

It is described as “moderate disruption”, according to which the government has to isolate confirmed cases, quarantine suspects, carry out closure of schools, institutions and public gatherings in the affected localities.

Schools and institutes closed in three Dzongkhags followed by Wangduephodrang and Phuentsholing.

Conforming with the response plan, the government announced closure of schools and institutes in Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang and Phuentsholing. Tourism has been put on hold for two weeks.

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