Increasing COVID cases but big drop in people visiting flu clinics across the country

The number of people visiting flu clinics has decreased unlike in the beginning with the disclosure of the first COVID-19 patient in March.

 In March, 5,984 patients visited the flu clinic set up by Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) with 300 to 400 patient visiting the flu clinic every day. The number of patients visiting the flu clinic decreased in the following months.

In April, 1,294 patients visited the flu clinic, followed with 921 on May and 719 in June. However, there was a slight increase in the number of people visiting flu clinic for the month of July and August with 1,459 and 1,285. More than 650 people have visited flu clinic this month so far.

A Specialist in General Practice and In-charge of the flu clinic of JDWNRH said about 50 patients visit the flu clinic daily. For the last one week, there was a gradual increase in the number of people visiting the flu clinic. So far, no positive patients were detected from the flu clinic.

The doctor also shared that they do not have any challenges so far. The people visiting flu clinic and the health staffs are asked to maintain a distance at the reception area, doctors’ chamber, at pharmacy and at the laboratory. All necessary precautionary measures are taken. There is a separate entry and the exit point to the flu clinic, hand washing and use of Druk Trace App.

The Flu clinic in JDWNRH and all flu clinics have started testing all the patients coming to the flu clinic with COVID-19 Antigen test and the turnaround time for the result is about 30 minutes.

During the COVID-19 press brief the Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said COVID-19 will stay for a long time and so those temporary flu clinics will be constructed in a permanent structure.

She said while people coming to the flu clinic and testing negative indicates a positive sign but now all the flu clinics has been experiencing lesser people, with not even 100 people visiting the 54 flu clinics across the country in a day.

The minister said there are people who shared that they have flu like symptoms but these groups haven’t visited the flu clinic.

Lyonpo said that from the health ministry’s side, the ministry is providing all the facilities but now it is the individual’s responsibility to utilize those facilities. The minister requested the public if they have flu like symptoms to kindly visit flu clinics unlike in the past where people take it easy when they have fever or flu.

People are requested to come by private cars or if they are serious then they can call toll free number, and a health team will come to their house and test them.

She said even if five percent of Thimphu’s population visits flu clinic and test negative, one is quite confident that there is no virus in the community.

She said COVID-19 testing done in the flu clinic is a part of enhancing surveillance.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo said due to His Majesty, Bhutan has enough testing kits and PPE and the ministry is also exploring saliva testing.

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