Managed to catch outbreak in nick of time but lockdown violators pose a challenge: Health Minister

The Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that they managed to catch the outbreak in the nick of time during the acute phase of transmission which is before a full blown transmission and so it could not spread much.

“My main fear in the future is that if an infection comes again then it may spread like wildfire. We have all seen examples in most countries including developed countries where there are not enough beds for patients and a lot of dead bodies. We do not have facilities like them. So we have to be very careful and responsible from here on,” said Lyonpo.

The minister’s call to be responsible came as the MoH while contact tracing and testing came across several cases of how people had not followed the lockdown strictly and as a result the virus spread.

She said, “People have been violating the purpose of the lockdown which means avoiding gatherings and only moving out with your cards.”

Lyonpo said that people had gathered in Debsi to have Nyempa Guzom and Losar celebration and in Terma Linca area people visited their neighbor’s place and had meals and tea.

“We knew about it when cases came up in these places as a positive case had spread the case there. People in Thimphu and Paro should all assume they have the virus,” said Lyonpo.

She said that in Dangrena, Dechencholing people during the lockdown slept in each others places at night and cases spread from there.

In Olakha too people had gatherings within the buildings and ate meals together and gambled.

“If people go to each other’s houses like this during the lockdown then the very purpose of the lockdown is defeated,” said the exasperated minister. 

On 6th January Lyonpo said that a person who wanted to travel to Phuentsholing and did the mandatory RT-PCR test at the flu clinic came out positive. But he had contact with 30 to 50 people even with the lockdown as that person had meals in other places and met other people even in distant places.

The minister said there are 44 households in Thimphu affected quite badly with most family members like children, spouses, grandparents etc coming out positive.

She asked people to follow the lockdown strictly and do not visit each other or allow new people in the house as guests will only bring the virus.

On the 21 cases on 6th January Lyonpo said that the 15 close contacts who tested positive had gone to sleep in their neighbor’s place during the lockdown and it spread from there.

Lyonpo said they did tests in 14 high risk clusters in Thimphu and 10 new cases came up which are not close contacts to others.

She said of the 65 red buildings with cases 53 had been tested and 8 came out positive after the tests.

The MoH said that the current outbreak is 10 times bigger than the Phuentsholing one in August.

Phuentsholing had a total of 144 cases with 66 nationals and 78 non-nationals.

But the current outbreak has seen well over 300 cases so far.

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