Those not taking vaccine may be subject to tests for inter-dzongkhag travel and using health facilities: MoH Minister

The Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that the ministry has asked the Dzongkhags to compile the details and identity of the people who are eligible and have not taken the vaccines.

She said this data is difficult for the MoH to collect by itself and so this is why the Dzongkhags are being involved.

Lyonpo said there will be mandatory testing for these unvaccinated people as the biggest fear is that these people could compromise the health system when there is a surge of cases.

The minister said that currently all people have to do a COVID-19 test to enter any hospital or medical facility with in patients of 10 beds and above.

She said while this will be lifted in the future for those who are vaccinated, it will continue to apply to those who have chosen not to get vaccinated. She said the health facility cannot risk an unvaccinated person bringing the virus to the facility.

Similarly, she said this same group could also be subject to compulsory tests while doing inter-Dzongkhag travel.

Lyonpo said they will also have to follow the 7-day quarantine in the future when traveling from high risk to low risk areas.

Lyonpo said that even international travel will be a challenge as many countries increasingly require vaccine certificates or records to show proof of vaccination.

Lyonpo said that the vaccine coverage is around 94 percent for the eligible who have registered with only around 2,700 left.

However, she said that the total number of the unvaccinated which includes those who are eligible and have not even registered are much larger. Last week the minister said there are around 37,000 eligible people who did not get vaccinated though this number would have come down by now.

Lyonpo said that government will have to keep a record of these people.

An official said that the ministry is requesting the Dzongdas and Gups to try and convince the eligible people who have not got the vaccine to get vaccinated. The official said that despite all the information and assurances there is still a group who are hesitating to get vaccinated.

The official said that a challenge for the ministry is on there being inadequate information. He said that numbers keep changing as the population is a floating one. He said they have estimated the total population as 756,129 based on the National Statistical Bureau (NSB) projection.

As per the MoH dashboard the last eligible registered population was 548,762 which includes 15 to 17 year olds and lactating mothers. 

He said the actual eligible population minus the 15 to 17 year olds and lactating mothers are around 496,000. He said that with 478,219 being vaccinated that leaves around 20,000 who are yet to be vaccinated.

The official, however, said the figures keep changing and need to be verified at the grass root level which where the Dzongkhags and local governments come in. He said the final figures will only be known after the verification.

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