N-95 masks, full PPE and additional training for Desuups deployed at quarantine facilities with COVID-19 positive cases

The Head of the Office of Performance Management under His Majesty’s Secretariat, Karma Yonten said that the government is concerned that more numbers of front line workers on duty are testing positive from numerous quarantine facilities.

He said that they had numerous discussions with the desuups on duty about how these things are occurring, as well as with the National COVID-19Task Force (NC19TF) and NITAG about the adequacy of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that they have in place at the quarantine facilities.

 The majority of the responses that they received indicated that the SOPs built for the delta virus should be suitable for omicron as well, but there are some small changes that are required.

There are two types of SOPs: health-related SOPs and security-related SOPs. When they reviewed the SOPs a few months ago, both of those were tightened and reviewed, and they also made sure that all of the Desuups who are going into the quarantine facility duty are well briefed, both on the security aspects by the Royal Bhutan Police and on the health aspects by Ministry of Health (MoH).

He said, “When we spoke to the desuups on quarantine duty, they all said they get briefed before going on duty, and when we asked how they operate within the quarantine facilities, they all said they follow the protocols and take all the necessary safety precautions. Thus, if the safety protocols are adequate, why are people still turning positive? And we had some discussions with quarantine facility people about this, and they’ve asked for better PPEs, which we’ve chosen to offer, particularly in quarantine facilities with positive individuals.”

Previously, the government provided three-layered masks, but going forward, N95 masks will be provided to Desuups in quarantine facilities that have positive individuals, and they will also supply complete PPEs in certain areas so that desuups will be in full PPE when they go and deliver the meals and come out.

He said that having desuups plus at such places who have been particularly trained by MoH will be extremely valuable, thus NC19TF has also mandated that moving forward, they will train desuups and deploy them at these facilities that have positive individuals.

“Of course, while we want to try to reduce virus transmission within the quarantine facility, we’re also concerned about virus glitches outside of the quarantine facility, so an additional SOP that we have developed at the Desuung office is that all the quarantine facilities that have positive individuals will have desuups cordoning of the area from the outside and so that this will ensure that absolutely no one from within the quarantine facility comes out and mixes with the community,” he said.

He added that the SOPs they have developed are sufficient for the Omicron variant and they are making the improvements where they can.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering stated that when they tested a few front line workers who were on duty where the positive individuals were kept, they tested positive.

“There were obviously contacts between the front line workers and the positive individuals. Although there should be no contact, there has been some. However, one good thing is that no infection has ever occurred between frontline workers who have tested positive and the community. They’ve been genuine front liners for us and if there was a breach, it should not have been done, and if it is done then it’s certainly their fault, but if it was due to something completely unavoidable, we feel terrible for them,” the Prime Minister said.

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