So far Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has received 16 males and 6 females with alcohol withdrawal syndrome since the second national lockdown.
The cases received are almost the same as in the first lockdown. This is even though alcohol is available in the respective zones and people should not be having alcohol withdrawal.
Medical Superintended of JDWNRH Dr Gosar Pemba explained that the alcohol withdrawal cases received so far are those individuals who are more or less homeless and they find that all the bars are closed. They are also individuals who cannot afford an entire bottle of alcohol as shops do not sell alcohol in pegs.
The government decided to supply alcohol during the first lockdown because JDWNRH received a large number of alcohol withdrawal cases.
An alcohol withdrawal case happens when a habitual and heavy drinker is cut off from alcohol and his body goes into withdrawal and shows strong symptoms.
Dr Gosar Pemba said beds for these patients are arranged outside the emergency department and not inside the hospital as they do not require admission in the hospital unless it is very severe. This is done because now that Thimphu has community transmission, and to keep the hospital free of the virus.
They are kept for three to four hours and after giving medicines they stabilize and are sent back home.
Economic Affair Minister Loknath Sharma said liquor is available around most of the retail shops as they also have alcohol retail license. There are liquor wholesalers open to provide consistent alcohol supply to these shops. Further, those groceries opened zone wise not having alcohol retail license can keep alcohol and sell (but no drinking on the premises) during lockdown so that there is access to people’s needs.
Therefore, MoEA has not received any complaints of not getting alcohol so far as it is readily available in most of the zone shops.
Lyonpo said if there are voluntary cases of people abstaining from alcohol it is nothing better for their health than that. “But we do not wish people to go undergo forceful withdrawal and the psychological and physical pain.”
All the identified shops opened in Thimphu sell alcohol and most consumed alcohol are hard liquor. However, most customers look for tobacco products than liquor. One resident said that there is no alcohol in their zone.
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