Samdrup Jongkhar still under lockdown while other southern Dzongkhags have implemented unlocking

Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhag has started mass testing on 11 September and is expected to finish in few days. As 17th September they have tested 532 individuals. Among the tested individuals, 3 tested positive, of which two are female from the community while the other one is RBP personnel working at a point of entry.

They will be testing around 2,000 people overall with two individuals from each household. To carry out the task, the Health ministry has deployed 8 health teams. Two people who will be tested are those who go out frequently and aged people in the house.

Knowing the importance, they have established a RT-PCR lab at Dewathang.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that they have a containment protocol put in place for all the front liners while there is none for the public. Therefore, when one who tested positive is from the community, it is difficult to do contact tracing.

Lyonpo said, “According to the surveillance assessment, we will develop a separate guideline for Samdrup Jongkhar, with do’s and don’ts and will see the need of identifying certain areas as red and yellow zones like in Phuentsholing.”

Meanwhile, green zone areas under Phuentsholing are in fourth phase of unlocking where movement of private vehicle will be allowed within the Dzongkhag and government office shall be opened. The final phase of unlocking will start on 20 September.

“The areas which fall under red zone are still under lockdown where no movement is allowed and the first testing for those in the red zone will start on 24 September,” Lyonpo added.

Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongda Tharchin Lhendup said that the unlocking of lockdown will be done according to the directives from the government after completing the testing. “For now, they have implemented the zoning system (excluding the location where one tested positive) since September 4.”

Samtse Dzongkhag is now into the fourth phase of unlocking where inter-district movement is allowed with proper registration. Dzongda Sonam Wangyel said that they a lot to learn from the first lockdown whereby they felt the importance of stocking up on animal feed.

“We have 10 poultry farm in the Dzongkhag with 64,000 chickens and it was tough on us to supply their feeds. However, we bought managed all the ingredients and prepared the feed ourselves and that helped us a lot. We have now starting importing the feed from India and getting from Pasakha too,” he added.

Likewise, they felt the need for maintaining the roads which are used as an alternative for transportation purposes during such times. “We are so dependent on LPG that I felt the need to promote other gas like biogas,” he said.

During lockdown, the only issue they had was not having enough vehicles. Health officials had to go door step to provide health services and patients from hospital had to be dropped back home, he said, adding that managing of smooth run of this services were challenging as they had limited numbers of vehicles. 

The first phase of unlocking of lockdown in Sarpang Dzongkhag started on 17 September. Dzongda Karma Galey said that people was wondering why lockdown was prolonged not realizing that they had a case in recently.

“We have not faced any challenges as such during lockdown and supply of essential items was sufficient. However, there were hiccups while implementing zoning system as people were confused about their boundary. We have implemented the zoning system on 31 August,” he added.

He said during lockdown some people were found not using face masks and so advocacy is being done.

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