Increasing quarantine duration decision to be based on evidence: PM

During a Press Conference held yesterday, the Prime Minister (PM) Dr Lotay Tshering said that it is looking into the demand for the increase in the duration of quarantine period. The PM, however, said that the government has to function based on evidence.

 “People should know that the government’s decision in keeping it to two weeks is based on scientific evidence and in keeping with the international practice,” the PM said.

He said that there is no international example of quarantine going beyond two weeks.

“People want the quarantine period to be extended, but there is no country in the world that has quarantine duration of more than two weeks. People are kept on home quarantine or home observation. The Bhutanese people coming from other countries are all kept in facility quarantine though the facility quarantine is for only for primary contacts and rest should be under home quarantine,” said the Prime Minister, adding that the check up is being carried out and test kits being held in reserve.

PM added that the quarantine in the country is very high unlike most of the other countries.

“The actual incubation period of the virus is 8 to 9 days, but we decided to extend and kept the quarantine period for 14 days. Even if the quarantine is made for 4 weeks, there is no guarantee in certain outlier cases,” he added.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dechen Wangmo during a press briefing on Wednesday said that the Technical Advisory Group in Ministry of Health studying about extending the quarantine period beyond 14 days and the ministry will take a decision in 3 to 4 days’ time.

“The international quarantine period is 14 days. But the National Technical Advisory Committee will come out with the decision on whether the period is enough. Moreover, the group has also discussed on the expenditures that will be incurred if the quarantine period is to be increased,” she said.

Health Minister added, “What we are doing is a gold standard. WHO does not recommend testing but we are testing every individual who is under quarantine and being extra careful. There is no country in the world which has a quarantine facility like Bhutan. Quarantining a person cost Nu 1000 a day, just for food.”

Currently, over 2,700 people are in various quarantine facilities of which 346 are in self quarantine of which 1,677 are male and 1,100 are females.

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