MoH estimates 15% of the country’s population could be infected in worst case scenario

This is after seeing the increasing number of the cases in the region

With the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the region, the Ministry of Health (M0H) estimates that 15% to 20% of the country’s population could be infected with Covid-19 cases in the worst case scenario.

According to Dr Tshokey of the Technical Advisory Group, there is a high risk of community transmission given the increasing cases in the region.

“The risk in the country has increased because the virus being new variant, and the new variant being highly transmissible,” Dr Tshokey said.

He also said that since many people are coming from outside (other countries), there are high chances that the virus may transmit from the quarantine facilities if standard of procedures are not followed strictly.

He said that they are prepared in case of a worst kind of scenario and if the virus spreads in the country.

“We have estimated now that 15 to 20% of the population could be of Covid-19 cases,” he said, adding that it is something very unlikely to happen. Initially, he said it was estimated that 3% of the population could make the infected cases.

According to Dr Tshokey, the ministry has also prepared and stocked up all the PPEs, oxygen cylinders and medicines. All the health centers have been asked to stock up essential medicines for six months. Infrastructures for accommodation of the patients like schools and buildings with big halls to accommodate maximum number of patients have also been identified so that two to three health staff can monitor them.

He said in the worst kind of scenario, only the critical patients requiring oxygen and ventilators will be admitted in the isolation ward.

He added that Bhutan has so far not experienced any waves of the Covid-19. With the third COVID-19 outbreak in the country, they are all clustered cases.    

Similarly, officials from the WHO Bhutan mentioned that looking at the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, it was controlled on time with timely intervention put in place.

Officials said that Bhutan so far did not experience any wave as such. With intensified public health measures put in place and high level of compliance from people in following the COVID-19 protocols, Bhutan is less likely to face any wave.

However, they said that people need to strictly follow the COVID-19 protocols and adhere to COVID-19 advices provided by the government.

When asked about the efficiency of the country’s health care system if the number of cases increases significantly, the WHO Bhutan responded that the health care system of Bhutan is strongly based on primary health care approach and during the pandemic response it was reinforced with better preparedness and response strategies in line with the pulse of the pandemic.

According to the WHO Bhutan, the whole of government and civic engagement approaches were adopted for better coordination, collaboration and partnership at all levels.

“The districts and health centers/hospitals have COVID-19 preparedness and response strategies in place including worst case scenario plan,” said WHO Bhutan officials.

Officials said that several tabletop exercises or simulations have been carried out in yellow and red zones of the country. In order to strengthen health system resilience and response capacity of Bhutan, additional human resources for health and other frontline workers were recruited and deployed in high risk zones to support and strengthen preventive, surveillance and treatment services in the country.

Vaccine

Officials from the WHO Bhutan mentioned that the COVAX facility is facing some challenges in terms of supply of the vaccine due to the new wave of COVID-19 infections in several countries with vaccine manufacturing capacity which forces them to reprioritize the vaccine for their domestic needs.

“COVAX is expecting that the deliveries can resume towards end of May or early June,” officials said.

Officials also said that for the Pfizer allocation, currently COVAX is working with the government to complete the final formalities and they are expecting the Pfizer delivery around May end. COVAX facility has allocated 108,000 doses of AstraZeneca and 5,850 doses of Pfizer.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu