SC19TF says compulsory mask wearing as cases start to rise again

Earlier, the Southern COVID-19 Task Force (SC19TF) allowed the Test and Go system on 4 July 2022, but through their observation, it was seen that many people are going out and coming in, even for some casual work.

Therefore, SC19TF has restricted people from going out unless it is an emergency.

An official from SC19TF said there have been cases where people go out and return back in the evening or the next day, which is a waste of COVID-19 test because, within a day, the test kit cannot detect whether a person is infected or not.

SC19TF has also made it compulsory to wear face masks due to the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases detected from foreign workers and Bhutanese returnees.

There were 162 cases in the last week, 259 before that, 169 cases three weeks ago, 116 cases four weeks ago, 95 cases five weeks ago, 55 cases six  weeks ago and only 30 cases  seven weeks ago.

Other than the increasing number of COVID-19 cases from the community, there is also an increasing threat from Monkeypox being detected in the neighboring countries.

The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) will strictly monitor to ensure compliance with the protocols. SC19TF reiterates that incoming travelers strictly adhere to the protocols of the Test and Go system without fail.

According to the SC19TF report as of 27 July 2022, in the last 24 hours, Phuentsholing has detected 10 COVID-19 positive cases out of 189 samples tested. 123 RT-PCR samples were collected from Samtse, from which 4 tested positive.

The official from SC19TF said people in the south has become very lax about the use of face mask, despite the increasing number of positive cases.

People must know that COVID-19 pandemic is not gone yet, the official said.

Meanwhile, all incoming travelers are required to give sample for RT-PCR test along with Nu 500 as testing charges at the Point of Entry (PoE). However, SC19TF observed challenges in receiving the RT-PCR testing charges from foreign workers (FWs) and/or their employer/agent on time despite repeated follow-ups. This has caused inconveniences from delays in transportation FWs from PoE to health screening and then to the quarantine facility. There is also the problem of foreign workers having to wait for long hours in the holding area at PoE; and, congestion at PoE posing communicable disease spread and security challenges.

In addition to the RT-PCR Testing charges, Nu 50 per head is collected as transportation charges for those incoming individuals (including FWs) availing transportation services provided by the PoE vehicle from PoE till the quarantine place (confined to Phuentsholing Thromde).

The amount will be collected from respective hotels facilitating the 24 hours mandatory observation upon dropping the individuals to their hotel. However, this is not applicable for FWs quarantined at Temporary Quarantine Facility (TQF), Amochu/Toorsa.

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