Forty-five cases involving 122 individuals have breached the lockdown protocol as of January 6.
Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo in a recent press briefing said a person who tested positive to COVID-19 in a Thimphu flu clinic had 50 close contacts and he/she had visited not only his or her zone but also other zones despite the lockdown.
The health ministry has notified the people of different flats not to interact even within the same building. They have also prohibited people living in the same neighborhood or locality against visiting each other’s residences.
“We urge the people to follow lockdown protocols properly,” said Lyonpo, adding that the nature and behaviour of the current virus are not the same as the earlier one.
“The current outbreak in Thimphu and Paro is 10 times bigger than the Phuentsholing outbreak in August, last year,” she said.
For movement pass violations, the government has issued penalties categorised as minor and major violations.
Minor violations include entering zone(s) other than one’s own zone, going out during a non-assigned time block, more than one person going out with a card, going out without a card, going to other people’s house, and not wearing a facemask when coming out of the house.
For violating once, De-suups would counsel the violators on the use of movement pass and confiscate the card for one day, and for the second violation, the card would be confiscated for three days and violating the rules thrice or more would count as major violation.
Moreover, major violation includes a violation after a second minor violation, and the card would be confiscated for a week.
Additionally, the use of non-authorized or fake movement pass and un-authorized use of vehicles during lockdown would lead to the case being reported to the police, and confiscation of movement card for the entire lockdown duration.
“The defaulters would be charged with Criminal Nuisance under section 410 and Breach of Public Order and Tranquillity under section 448 of the Penal Code of Bhutan,” said Attorney General, Lungten Dubgyur.
As per section 410, a defendant is guilty of the offence of criminal nuisance if the defendant knowingly or recklessly creates or maintains a condition including the spread of a dangerous disease that injures or endangers public health or safety.
The offence is a fourth-degree, which is liable for a prison term between three to five years.
Section 448 states a defendant is guilty of the offence of disrupting public order and tranquillity if the defendant purposely fails to abide by the orders of the government issued in the interest of public safety, public order, and tranquillity.
The offence is a petty misdemeanor liable for imprisonment of more than three months to less than a year.
The Attorney General said the defendant would also be liable to bear the expenses for 21 days quarantine and could be charged and prosecuted for aiding and abetting under section 125 of Penal Code of Bhutan.
Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that 44 households in Thimphu are affected quite badly with all family members testing positive and of the 65 red buildings, testing for 53 buildings have been done with detection of eight positive cases.
With active community transmission averaging 17 positive cases daily in Thimphu and Paro, breaching the lockdown protocol could lead to increased active cases and an extension of the lockdown.
“Given the current situation, with an increasing number of positive cases, if the movement pass guidelines are not followed stringently, there is great risk of spreading the virus, and the lockdown in Thimphu could go on for a very long time,” states a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu