With the easing of certain restrictions in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) is making the use of facemasks compulsory for all the people visiting hospital from 1 July. Similarly, the people visiting district hospitals have to also wear the facemask.
The Medical Superintendent Dr Gosar Pemba said there is a high chance of getting infected in a hospital since it is a crowded place. It is necessary to take the precaution, as the patients who have recovered and tested negative could become positive again as there is no guarantee, he said.
Dr Gosar said as we enter into the new normal phase, the people have to responsible for their own safety and for the safety of others as well. A busy and crowded hospital is a very risky place.
He said if somebody who is COVID-19 positive comes to the hospital, especially during the morning hours, then it will be very difficult to trace the people. So it is better to take the precaution of using a facemask to avoid getting infected.
As the number of COVID-19 cases increase just across the border, there are people risking lives by smuggling items across the border. So there is a chance that some people might get infected and then the chance of spreading the virus is very high.
“When we ask the public to do something and make it compulsory, we also have to make sure that it (facemask) is available. So that is why we took some time, and we are also announcing slowly through the media, Facebook and DeSuups are also informing people. We have given more than 10 days in creating the awareness and the importance of wearing facemask, so they will have to wear the mask compulsory. If not, the people will claim that nobody informed them about wearing mask is mandatory in the hospital,” said Dr Gosar.
He said the facemasks should be easily accessible to the public and it should not be expensive. The Ministry of Health (MoH) has done a survey on whether there are enough facemask in Thimphu, and it found that there are more than 200,000 facemasks are available in Thimphu. MoH has also received some facemasks from NGOs that they will sell at a lower price so that everyone can afford it.
All over the world, wearing facemasks has proven to be effective in preventing infection, especially when a person goes into a crowd. 75 percent of people visiting hospital wear facemasks in Thimphu, however, it is not necessary if a person is walking alone on the road where you might meet just a few people and if you plan to maintain distance, said Dr Gosar.
More than 1,500 people visit JDWNRH every day.