The increasing cases of breach of quarantine protocol in the quarantine centers have alerted the government to impose stricter measures. The national taskforce has also made a decision to immediately suspend the incoming of foreigners temporarily due to the new coronavirus variants and cases in the neighboring Indian states.
Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said a pandemic fatigue has set in, a year and a half into the pandemic, despite the stringent protocols.
Lyonpo pointed out that the frontline workers have been on guard for a long time, and so the pandemic fatigue and complacency is kicking in. Therefore, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is urgently re-examining the situation, such as reviewing all quarantine management systems, holding a series of consultation with the stakeholders, like Royal Bhutan Police, DeSuups and health personnel to enhance the existing protocols, and to continuously monitor the implementation of SOP within the quarantine facilities as well.
Even with SOP in place, there are gaps in the implementation, said Lyonpo. She said that some improved SOPs have been put in place.
MoH is now screening for the new variant of COVID-19, with samples taken from the recent community outbreak in Phuntsholing. The samples are sent to Bangkok for analysis to study which variant of the virus is in Bhutan.
“As of now, there are five variants of concern that we are worried about and we will closely monitor this,” the health minister said.
Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering said the word ‘breach’ is used very loosely, and it is sad to know that two of the hotel managers have breached the quarantine protocol knowing that they are not supposed to. However, the DeSuups who have tested positive in the quarantine centers did not breach the protocols.
The Prime Minister said DeSuups are attending to more than 20 people who have come from India. They have to receive 5 to 6 calls from every room in the quarantine facility.
“No matter how protected they are, they are bound to get the virus,” PM said.
However, the government will be temporarily stopping the entry of foreign workers and hoping that the positive cases will also be reduced.
The quarantine protocols will be very strict with an extra help from the police force to monitor the quarantine centers. So that there is no chance of human error.
The health minister said the national inspection monitoring team is being replicated at the districts to continuously provide the oversight and monitoring of the protocols so that it is to be implemented diligently.
The PM shared how two daughters in a family from Phuentsholing pleaded with the government to be allowed see their father who was placed in ICU in JDWNRH in Thimphu.
“We couldn’t allow and asked them to follow at least one week in quarantine, and they were in third day of quarantine, and their father passed away. The family will not forgive me but we can’t help it. We are fighting every hour,” said the PM.