Visiting friends and families is one of the reasons for detecting positive cases during the lockdown: Health Minister

Despite imposing strict lockdown in all high-risk areas, positive cases are still being detected from the community leading to public frustration and anger with questions on how well the lockdowns are working.

The Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo in a live broadcast said although they are imposing lockdowns, there are positive cases from the community and that is because the people are still moving around and visiting their friends and families, which is one of the reasons people are still getting infected.

The Health Minister said lockdowns have caused a lot of inconvenience to the general public, but the general public must know that the country is having a difficult time with the current situation and requested everyone to adhere to the lockdown protocols and safety measures.

The health minister is worried that the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country might disrupt the normal health services especially in the high-risk areas. She shared that Gelephu is one of the regional hospitals and with the number of positive cases detected from there, the hospital is over-burdened.

“People must question themselves while visiting friends and families that anyone can be the one carrying the virus, as the virus is an invisible enemy and no one knows who has the virus,” said the Health Minister.

Director General/Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Dr Sithar Dorjee clarifies that many people think that COVID-19 is similar to flu and people feel it is not really necessary to impose lockdown, which is not true.

He said Omicron has four sub-variants, BA.1, BA.2, BA.3 and BA.4.

BA.1 is four times transmissible than Delta variant and the cases detected in the country are BA.2 which is more transmissible than BA.1 and can cause severity.

“Earlier we thought after giving two shots of COVID-19 vaccines, the country can go into relaxation. They even came up with the guidelines after detecting Omicron where even vaccines cannot provide the full protection from the virus and people can still get infected but with less severity,” said Dr Sithar.

‘Live with the virus’ phrase has been circulating among the public, and here Dr Sithar said if its kept without any attention then the virus will spread like wildfire around the country and this will lead to over-burdening of the health facilities, there will be shortage of quarantine facilities and much more challenges will arise where specialists and nurses will not be able to attend their patients, everything will be disrupted and because of these, there will more deaths from COVID-19.

“We can contain or wipe out the virus from the community if every individual follows the lockdown protocols diligently. When we did the contact tracing, we found out that one person has about 20 to 25 contacts,” said Dr Sithar.

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 cases were recorded in the country so far and four COVID-19 deaths were recorded, and within a short period more than almost 2,000 active cases are there which is far higher than the previous lockdown.

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