A strict protocol is in place for the people coming into the country from abroad to ensure zero community transmission.
A risk assessment is done starting from preparation time of boarding the plane. The passengers are made to fill up a form to declare if they have tested positive in the country they are coming from, or if any of their friends have tested positive.
Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that the filled up forms would help them to identify the high-risk group among the passengers before they board the plane, and accordingly their sitting arrangement is made so that the high-risk passengers can board later, she said.
“Once they arrive at the Paro International Airport, we immediately take the samples of those in the high-risk group and they are isolated in Paro. And the rest of the passengers will be directly sent to quarantine facilities and their samples are taken only after three to four days after arrival,” Lyonpo said.
When they are in the quarantine, they are in another level of protection, Lyonpo said, adding that they do not assign roommates to the high-risk people. Lyonpo said that every individual who are on duty should take the precaution in assuming that everyone is COVID-19 positive.
It is a must that the people in frontline should wear their facemask, hand gloves, maintain distancing and have a very minimal contact with the passengers.
She said, “We now have pretty much minimal contact because they do not fill up the forms. They, in fact, don’t do anything. We call the passengers and get the information. We have minimized the contact overall.”
The police personnel, DeSuups and in-charge on duty know exactly who are in the high-risk group in their respective quarantine facility, and thereby they take the extra precaution.
Lyonpo also emphasized on how the safety is assured to those people working in quarantine facilities, like the chefs and other staff. She said, “Staff in facility doesn’t come into direct contact with people who are quarantined/ patients. Chef, cooks the food following the protocol set by BAFRA but basic PPA is mandated.”
In addition, Lyonpo also said that the DeSuups take the food and leave it near the doorsteps of the rooms of the people in the quarantine facility to pick up. The food is served in aluminum foil (packing box), which is dumped directly.
The frontline people in quarantine facilities are tested frequently at every change of duty to ensure that they are not infected.
Meanwhile, Lyonpo said that the health ministry recommends one week of home stay for the people who have come out of the 21-days of quarantine to minimize the risk of spread of community transmission.
“For those who are at the high-risk and have tested positive, the second level of surveillance is monitoring them for 10 days. And after that they have to be in quarantine for 14 days. So the probability is very rare that they will come out as positive. But this is not 100 percent sure either,” she added.
There is probability of 0.1 percent but based on the science the risk is very minimal. There are people who do not abide by the recommendation and go in public places posing as risks to the community.
“We urge the public not to have any kind of gatherings,” Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said.