Tsirang deals with numerous challenges due to the pandemic

Tsirang Dzongkhag has 45 active cases, as of now, since the outbreak and no frontliners got infected so far. It was learnt that so far no health complications were reported from the COVID-19 positive patients.

Few symptomatic patients are managed at the isolation centre by the health professionals and the health teams are being supported by the Desuups and police personnel. For now, positive cases are being kept at the non-hospital isolation center at the Royal Audit Authority’s Professional Development Centre (PDC).

Chewang Rinzin, an incident Commander of Tsirang Dzongkhag who is also the Director of RIGSS shared that there are few hotels in Damphu town which they are using for quarantine. He further said that there is also a dedicated quarantine facility built with the support of the business community which can accommodate 28 people.

“The PDC has 250 isolation beds ready for use and Damphu Middle Secondary School has provision for 250 more isolation beds of which 50 are ready for use any time,” he added.

Tsirang in total has 20 red buildings of which the restrictions from 8 red buildings were lifted on friday making the total number of red buildings to 12. The red buildings are cordoned off and monitored by Desuups, he said.

Meanwhile, he said that though they are dealing with the situation, they have come across various challenges whereby isolating positive cases from villages was a huge challenge as people have farms, fields and domestic animals to look after. It was particularly difficult where all members turned positive.

He said, “Shortage of quarantine facilities is another challenge whereby we had to home quarantine the primary contacts. Moreover, a timely help could not be provided to Tsirang-bound travelers from red zones in other Dzongkhags such as Wangduephodrang that were also running out of quarantine beds.”

The other challenges are the facilitation of agriculture and livestock products, especially during the initial blackout period. Not only did the blackout in the Dzongkhag posed challenges, the recent outbreaks in Gelephu and the road blocks at Dochula caused by snow added to it, he said.

Those factors caused delay in facilitating transport of oranges, vegetables and livestock products and all these are perishable items with limited lifespan.

Not having a testing lab in Tsirang is one major challenge, he said, as it hampers the efficient decision-making due to late arrival of test results sometimes. For now, they are sending the sample to either Gelephu or Thimphu.

However, “We were able to resolve most of these challenges after a Dzongkhag Taskforce worked in a close coordination with local leaders, Gewog Taskforce and relevant officials at the Dzongkhag and national level.”

He emphasized on how the Dzongkhag Task Force has been focusing on measures that has been taken to stop the spread of virus to other districts, and also to stop from importation of virus into the district.

The Inter-Dzongkhag travel has been regulated with stringent requirements, he said, adding that however, the travelers with medical emergencies and with genuine reasons were prioritized and were facilitated on time after thorough risk assessment and without compromising protocols.

In addition, “Escort services have been initiated for travelers from red and yellow zones, and the movement permits were strictly monitored by the frontliners. Now that all the Gewogs were turned to either yellow or green zone, we have started facilitating all categories of travelers,” he added.

For those who do not have their own cars, they are arranging transport services.

A mass testing was initiated from 7 to 9 February at the core Damphu Town and nine peripheral Chiwogs of four Gewogs. Of the total 7,000 collected samples, none tested positive.

In the distant Gewogs and Chiwogs which are far away from the outbreak epicenter, one in three households were tested at different times after the outbreak. Accordingly these Gewogs transitioned to Green not long after the outbreak, he said.  

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