Usage of facemask to be made mandatory along the border in the new normal

Dzongkhags along the border, like Samtse, Phuentsholing, Sarpang and Samdrupjongkar are in the process of making the usage of facemask mandatory after the implementation of the new normal. Moreover, they are making people use Druk Trace App compulsorily. 

100 additional DeSuups are deployed in each of the dzongkhags for a month, and will be changed every month. Head officials have shared that DeSuups have been very useful and effective to manage the people. The monthly rotation of DeSuups means that they can serve actively around the clock without much fatigue.

Chukha Dzongda, Minjur Dorji, said that they are following the new normal as directed by the government. “With time extension to 9 pm, relaxation of businesses and sports, school re-opening, the monitoring work is becoming a bit extra while it was different before the implementation of new normal,” he said.

He said that they are for now trying to make the usage of facemask mandatory in every gathering. However, 100 percent enforcement is challenging. He said, “We have identified one COVID-19 focal person each for all the regional offices in Phuentsholing. They will be responsible for dealing with any COVID-19 related issues in respective offices.”

There are also teams from health inspecting industries and stores at Pasakha. He said, “According to the situation, we are revising our SOPs and containment protocol. We also have installed additional CCTV cameras.”

Samtse Dzongda, Sonam Wangyel, said that everything is going well and they are emphasizing on usage of a facemask, and in maintaining social distancing in schools and in any of the gatherings.

“People do not have the habit of using facemask, and it can be due to heat causing them to inconvenient and suffocating. So convincing them is quite challenging. However, we have not seen people rushing due to the time extension rule,” he said.

The cases along the border in Samtse has reduced due to several reasons, he said, adding that the swollen river is stopping the people from crossing the river to get across the border.

“Due to change of duty frequently, they perform better and leave no lapses while manning the border. We have 66 point of entries,” he added. They have started keeping the people, who are engaged in unloading goods in isolated rooms, away from people as a safety measure.

Samdrupjongkhar Dzongda, Tharchin Lhendup, said, “Everything is going on as usual without much of a difficulty. DeSuups and other volunteers are playing a vital role in maintaining safety and peace in the community.”

Apart from focusing on the usage of facemask, he said that no spectators are allowed to attend any sports competition as they are monitored strictly.

“Coming in of illegal immigrants and conduct of illegal businesses through illegal route was an issue before, but now with additional manpower, we could man the border 24/7, and no such cases are reported for now in recent times,” he said.

Sarpang Dzongda, Karma Galay, shared that with the new normal they face difficulties in maintaining social distancing and in making people wear the facemask. It is, however, getting a lot better, he said, adding that, “People wear mask in front of us, but they remove it right after we leave. It can be due to the heat. We are putting in our effort though.”

He also said that their main focus is on security and border management. There were 4 more additional entry points to monitor, making it to 73 in total. Those in the frontline are assured with safety measures as they maintain all the health advisory, mandatory usage of facemask and gloves. However, it becomes challenging sometimes in maintaining social distancing. People who are placed at gates are not allowed to go home. They are put up in temporary shelters and frequent testing for COVID-19 is carried out on them, for the safety of their families and people around them.  

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