Protocols in quarantine facilities questioned

PM says protocols in quarantine facilities are strict now

In the wake of employees and front-liners from quarantine facilities testing positive to Covid-19, questions have emerged whether adequate Covid-19 protocols are in place at quarantine facilities and that they are diligently followed by people stationed and working there.

Recently, Covid-19 positive cases among front-liners from quarantine facilities have been detected from Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar and Thimphu. They were found positive while doing their quarantine duties.

On April 16, three front-liners from a Phuentsholing quarantine facility tested positive. Another front-liner tested positive from a Phuentshoiling quarantine facility the next day.

On April 20, three front-liners from a Thimphu quarantine facility tested positive.

On April 22, one front-liner from a Phuentsholing quarantine facility tested positive, and another front-liner from a Phuentsholing quarantine facility tested positive on April 25.

On April 27, four front-liners from a Samdrup Jongkhar quarantine facility tested positive and one front-liner from a Phuentsholing quarantine facility tested positive on April 28.

So far, a total of 14 front-liners have tested positive to Covid-19.

Responding to this development during the zoom 42nd Meet-The-Press session on Friday, Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering said it was very sad that the hotel’s cook had breached the quarantine protocols, knowing that they are not allowed to come out from quarantine centers.

On April 20, three staff, two females and one male at a quarantine facility in Lanjophakha in Thimphu, tested positive. However, it was reported that the male cook had violated the quarantine protocols and went out three times.

Lyonchhen, however, mentioned that DeSuups testing positive is not because of breach of quarantine protocols.

“Because they are attending to more than 20 people, who come as labor from India and then every day they attend around five to six calls from every room for small reasons,” Lyonchhen added. “How much ever they wear protective gears; they walk into rooms with one or two laborers who have been found to be positive later.”

The PM said, “We reviewed the quarantine protocols. Now the protocols are very strict. Now there are Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) personnel to monitor the quarantine facility managers.”

Lyonchhen said that now there are two layers – one group of DeSuups with quarantine facility managers to manage the quarantine facility and additional layer of police personnel monitoring the whole facility.

“So that we don’t take chance in human errors, though we human are complacent,” Lyonchhen said.

On DeSuups on duty testing positive, the PM said it is very difficult to find from where they had it and how they got it.

“They say that most probably they went to XYZ rooms to attend calls four to six times a day. The laborers in the quarantine facilities, they talked with front-liners and they don’t wear facemask. For very small things, they are called up. As front-liners they have been asked to attend to every call,” the PM said.

“I don’t think that we can find out from which spot or person that front-liner got positive, but more or less we know that it got from this particular room,” Lyonchhen added.

Similarly, Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that there are very stringent protocols thoroughly reviewed by the technical advisory group taking into consideration our own contexts.

Nevertheless, the Lyonpo said they are all human beings and people who are working in the frontline are also doing duty for a very long time. “Fatigue and complacency kicks in.”

“We are reviewing every quarantine management system; we had a series of consultation with the stakeholders and figuring out how we can enhance the existing protocols and continuously monitor the implementation within the quarantine facility as well,” the Lyonpo said.

According to the Lyonpo, they do have SOPs. However, there is always gaps in implementation of the SOPs, which now we are reviewing it and looking into how best we can address this. Lyonpo also mentioned that they have a national inspection monitoring team and it’s replicated in the districts as well to continuously provide oversight and monitor the quarantine protocols so that they are implemented diligently.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu