The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) team has also done some estimation on how many people will require hospitalization and ICU care if 60 percent of the population is infected.
If 60 percent of population are infected, then the projection by the TAG is about 44,000 cases will be detected, out of which 2,200 people are projected to need hospitalization, and from there 800 people are expected to need oxygen tanks, and 82 people will need ICU care.
The current bed capacity for hospitalization is 700, based on that, the cases seem to be manageable said Dr Sonam Wangchuk of TAG. He said the cases will not come suddenly at one time, but come at a staggering rate, according to the estimation made.
He said the situation has changed and so has the measures. It is safe to assume the whole family members are infected even if one person from that household tests positive, according to the findings of the TAG team, so the whole family members are kept under home quarantine unless they need urgent medical treatment from severe symptoms.
Only the symptomatic persons only including those needing medical treatment will now be tested. According to risk categorization, the number of people needing hospitalization (medium to severe category) is 9, which is 0.05 percent of hospitalization, which is very low.
Looking at other countries, the rate is below 2 percent, and for a country like Bhutan, the hospitalization rate seems manageable, he said. The mortality rate is also being monitored.
Regarding the people’s concerns on why the quarantine period has been shortened from weeks to few days, Dr Sonam replied that as they learnt about the nature of the virus, there is enough data to suggest that the incubation period of the virus is generally short, and the decision to release the person after a few days is backed up by science.
On testing it has shifted from RT-PCR to the antigen testing. He said that during phase 1 and 2 it was all about early detection and early elimination of the virus so RT-PCR was necessary since its sensitivity was very high.
But as we enter into third phase it is about case detection and management so all hospitals and flu clinics will use the antigen testing. He said RT-PCR takes time and logistically all hospitals do not have RT-PCR. Antigen tests have been found to be equally effective
Dr Sonam said that the antigen test has same sensitivity as the RT-PCR, and since the objective has changed from elimination of the virus to the prevention of rapid virus spread across the community, both are expected to provide the same results, whether the result comes out after one day or a few days.