No containment breach in the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in schools in Sarpang and Samtse: MoH

Due to a high level of local area transmission in Sarpang and Samtse, the students of Samtse and Sarpang dzongkhags have contracted the virus despite being in a containment mode during their board examinations.

According to the Ministry of Health (MoH) data as of 17 March 2022, in the recent outbreak cases, 378 students tested positive in Gelephu, Sarpang, and the majority of them have mild symptoms. Only one of the students has underlying health conditions.

In Samtse, 108 students, 10 staff and 3 cooks tested positive from the containment center. The MoH official said that the students were relocated from Gomtu. These students were relocated from red buildings and clusters from Gomtu during a huge outbreak in Gomtu. 119 students were relocated from Gomtu to Dorokha for examination.

The maximum students are asymptomatic and a few of them are showing mild symptoms. One of the students has a comorbid condition, said the MoH official.

More than 88 percent of the students in Gelephu are vaccinated with booster doses and 85 percent of the students in Samtse Dorokha are vaccinated.

The MoH official explained that there was no breach of containment mode where there is a high level of virus circulation in the community, and that the case investigation was not required as to how the virus spread despite being in a containment mode.

The official acknowledged that there is already a high level of community transmission happening in Gelephu and while in Samtse Dorokha, the positive students were from high risk clusters and red buildings relocated from Gomtu during a huge outbreak in Gomtu.

The official also said the students and teachers were tested negative before getting in containment, but it doesn’t mean they are un-infected, as the test doesn’t rule out the incubation period of the virus.

The Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering in the recent LIVE press session said the nation has around 26,700 students of class X and XII, out of around 800 students have got the infection throughout the country. Notwithstanding, the number of the students who got the infection people should not panic if one looks into the number of students.

In the recent outbreak among the students in Samtse and Sarpang, PM said the students were tested for COVID-19, not because they were sick or had some flu-like symptoms, but they were tested since the students had to travel back to their hometown after their board exams, and that is when they tested positive for COVID-19.

PM said the students who have tested positive are given the choice to either self-quarantine at home, where their apartment will be marked as red apartment, or stay in the school in a containment mode. If parents want to stay with their children in an isolation hotel, they are welcome to that, the PM added.

The PM said it is impossible to eliminate the virus from the country. In Thimphu, there are 3,400 students who sat for the board exams, and there are day students where they go for the exams in the morning and return home after their exams, and that is one of the reasons why the elimination of the virus is not at all possible.

Meanwhile, an anonymous student has posted in a Thimphu Confession Page on Facebook, claiming to have seen the teachers going out from the containment school zone in Gelephu during the night time. The anonymous student claims that the students were asked to not inform their parents about such incident, even when they fell sick, and were forced to conceal what was going on in the school. However, this post has not been verified and is only an allegation.

The Education Minister Jai Bir Rai said the Omicron variant is very contagious, and the transmission of the virus was bound to happen anyway. However, the students could sit for their board exams and it was successful, and that is the most important thing. He said the Ministry of Education has given the utmost care and support to the students.

He said there is no way any individual would breach the containment knowing that the area was monitored by DeSuups and police constantly. And if anybody left the containment area, the ministry would see to it right away.

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