With the increase in the number of Omicron variant positive cases, in the south in Phuentsholing, Sarpang and Samdrupjongkhar, surveillance measures and contact tracing and testing have been stepped up.
Furthermore, security along the border is being strengthened, and awareness program to educate the people on the safety measures and precautions against the new variant is ongoing as well.
The Home Secretary who is also the Chair of the Southern COVID-19 Task Force, Sonam Wangyal, said that with an increase in number of cases in Phuentsholing, people have become more matured in responding to the threat of the Omicron variant.
He said, “In the past, people would wait for that one moment to come out of house. But now, the situation is different because, even when they are provided with the movement cards, just a few people are seen coming out for shopping. That way, we do not see crowding anymore.”
The Task Force is thankful to the people for their immense support and cooperation in curbing the transmission. Although the focus is more on containing the community transmission, however, round the clock surveillance and the patrolling along the border have been going strong, Sonam Wangyal added. An additional team is also serving as a backup force to continue the work.
Numerous awareness programs are also underway to inform the public on the Omicron variant, which is twice as infectious as the Delta variant.
Such preventive measures are seen as the reason why the people are playing it safe this time, and helping to control the further spread of the virus, by following the strict COVID-19 safety protocols. This is one successful initiative, he added.
However, he said, “The variant, being infectious, the number of cases might go up. And to find out if one is infected, we require a minimum of 3-4 days. We are drawing a graph to find out major events that have taken place.”
Nevertheless, the number of cases in quarantine facilities have come down, which the Task Force believe is a good sign, but the cases in the community is increasing, which means the primary contacts will also increase. More number of primary contacts means more the risk.
However, the primary contacts will be put under quarantine. He further said, “Since we are going through a transition period, it would be difficult to say anything. However, in about 7 to 10 days, we should be able to say something on this.”
Meanwhile, Samtse Dzongda, Passang Dorji, said that in terms of security, it is being fully strengthened and there has been continuous dissemination of information on the Omicron variant to the public.
He said, “To ensure no loopholes, we escort and monitor the travelers from Phuentsholing and those who travel from Samtse to Phuentsholing. We have an adequate number of people guarding the border, and they are doing their best round the clock.”
Sarpang Dzongda, Lobzang Dorji, said, “Keeping in mind the nature of the Omicron variant, we are now focusing more on the disease. On the other hand, we are enhancing the surveillance and have been strengthening the security along the border.”
The medical team has been bogged down with testing and other medical works, and is being helped by a back up team as well. Many teams have been formed and sent to all the vulnerable places, he added.
He further said, “The current transmission has nothing much to do with border security and patrolling. With the community cases, we have been focusing on contact tracing, so that we can stop the virus from further spreading.”
Samdrupjongkhar Dzongda, Tharchin Lhendup, said, “We are enhancing the surveillance and security, as and when needed. However, there is not much needed, in terms of security as everything is under lockdown, for now.”
Everything is intact along the border, and the frontliners are working round the clock to ensure zero transmission. To ensure strict monitoring in the community, enough Desuups along with the police are deployed, he added.
To contain the spread of the virus, the dzongkhag is working towards contact tracing and testing, he said, and posters mentioning the protocols and laws for breach of protocol have been pasted for the public to adopt preventive measures against the virus.