The link between lockdown violations, community cases and a longer lockdown in Thimphu

Even with more than three weeks of lockdown there are still cases from flu clinic or from community screening in Thimphu.

Given the fact that they are still getting cases from the community, the question is, from where they have got the virus.

It was learnt that though the number of people who have been violating the movement card is quite low officially, people that they cannot catch seems to be quite high as they keep getting cases from the community.

As per the record from Thimphu police, since lockdown as of 14 January they have received 69 cases of lockdown violation which includes crossing of zones, misusing of movement cards and loitering around at late hours.

Head of the Office of Performance Management under His Majesty’s Secretariat, Karma Yonten said that if people had stayed home and followed health safety protocols, in two to three weeks they should not be having cases from the community and whatever cases come in should be from the primary and secondary contacts of the index case.

He said, “Had they followed health safety protocols or not met any people outside, they should not have got the virus. They have tested positive (from the community) as they must have breached some of the protocols.”

He said it shows that people are not really following what needs to be done which is a serious concern because Thimphu unlocking is supposed to start only 14 days after the last positive case is discovered either at the flu clinic or through community screening.

“If a person is found to be positive from the community, the clock gets reset which means the 14 days counting will start from that particular day and if this continues, the lockdown is going to go on for a longer period of time,” he added.

This is where government needs 100 percent compliance from everyone in the community. He said that even if there is 99 percent of compliance from the community, that 1 percent who does not comply then the virus can spread all over.

Meanwhile, for now, once they find a violator they confiscate their movement card whereby they get details of the person and the head of the family to inform about the violation. They will know if a person is a repeat offender through the details collected.

There were cases whereby a person whose card was confiscated due to a violation again borrowed their neighbors card and went out for shopping, he said, adding that if caught the card will again be confiscated and both the owner of the movement card and a person who borrowed the card will be liable for breaching the protocol. The second time, the card will be confiscated for longer period of time.

He said, “The number of violation whereby people who cross their zones are very few. Most are the violators who come out at a wrong time and this can be because the time assigned to them is not convenient or may be because there is no one to monitor. From a week ago we have started monitoring strictly.”

With cases from the community even after three weeks of lockdown, they are now implementing everything seriously as people keep violating which would ultimately led to the lockdown continuing.

This is the time where they will step-up more strongly and they have briefed Desuups that their objective is to ensure that people are carrying movement cards, they are coming out in right time and they are not crossing their zones, he added.

He said, “Those are okay during the day time but people tend to violate after 5 PM and at night in particular whereby it becomes difficult for our duty to track people in the dark. We have patrolling teams in all the zones but they are not sufficient. Therefore, we seek public’s support in reporting any kind of violation in their neighborhood. They can call 113 or 133 to report.”

He said the people of Thimphu are tired of lockdowns and waiting for unlocking, however, if people keep violating the protocol and keep going out spreading the virus, there will be no end to the lockdown.

Therefore, he said, “If we get support from the public than everything can be eased. Though the numbers of violators are few but looking at the cases from the community, there must be many people who are violating who we are not able to catch.”

In the meantime Thimphu has put its North and South mega zones into yellow zones but if cases come up there then it may remain in the yellow zone.

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