Majority of transmission carried by drivers and so need to test them regularly: TAG

Confusion over CPMS, ePass and RT-PCR report for inter district movement

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) member, Dr Tshokey, said that during the lockdown, essential commodities must be delivered, thus people must go to various locations, from high risk to low risk, and as a result, even though people are required to follow protocol and are tested, there is always a breach of protocol.

“What we are witnessing is that in many locations where drivers transport essential commodities, they take the virus from a heavily affected region and then move to a green area, where they spread the virus. Right now, the majority of transmission is carried by drivers, whether in Samtse, Jomotsahangkha, or Thimphu. As a result, we always make sure that the drivers are tested on a regular basis because even though testing is done, there is no 100 percent guarantee that you do not have a virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Sonam Wangchuk of TAG said that since it is the winter season and lots of rituals are taking place, with many family visits taking place.

“We colour code based on the outbreak staging, notably red, yellow, and green. So once we do the colour coding, if people have to travel out of those color coded areas, people from the red area have to get tested and quarantined before they can leave to the other areas, and people from the yellow coded area do not have to get quarantined but they do have to get the RT-PCR test with a 72-hour validity, and people from the green area do not have to test and can easily travel,” he said.

Dr Tshokey said the Ministry of Health (MoH) will work on linking Check-Post Management System (CPMS), ePass and RT-PCR report together after the situation settles down to avoid confusion while travelling.

There has been a lot of confusion over ePass and CPMS, as well as accessing the RT-PCR report online.

“We agree that there is a problem, and we’ve been talking about it amongst ourselves.  The ePass is for travel during the lockdown, and CPMS is for normal travel. However, there is some duplication as we opened the lockdown. Even though the lockdown in Thimphu has been lifted, people are still required to have a negative COVID-19 test certificate while traveling, and we made the request a few days ago for people traveling from Thimphu to have a RT-PCR report,” he said.

He said that CPMS and ePass should have been linked, but the ministry doesn’t yet have a system in place that enables either ePass or CPMS to be linked to the RT-PCR report from the RCDC system, which the ministry will do once things settle down.

“During this period, we have the 1010 looking after the ePass, and they have also been given access to the RCDC system to trace individual’s report online, and to approve or disapprove movement. Sometimes, there is also a big issue there,” he said.

No positive cases were reported during the four days of people going out of Thimphu to the entire districts, and more than 10,000 people travelling and doing the RT-PCR, is becoming a mass testing in itself.

From Thursday onwards, the ministry adopted the antigen testing, so that anyone leaving Thimphu can do the antigen test in half an hour’s time, and start his or her journey.

Dr Tshokey added that it is the responsibility of the individuals to come forward and get tested if they are suspicious so that the ministry can have early contact tracing and avoid blackout and lockdown.

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