72-hour lockdown imposed in Phuentsholing

The possibility of the lockdown extension, according to a task force member, would depend on the results of the contact tracing

A 72-hour lockdown was imposed in Phuentsholing Thromde including Pasakha starting yesterday morning at 6am after a 37-year-old woman, who is an expatriate worker with a local restaurant in Phuentsholing, tested positive for Covid-19.

The woman was tested on Thursday by a team from the Ministry of Health (MoH) during a regular surveillance exercise in Phuentsholing. The confirmation of results came yesterday and a 72-hour lockdown in the town was accordingly imposed.

Meanwhile, the 37-year-old expatriate woman from Alipur, West Bengal in India had already received all three doses of the Covid-19 vaccines, including the recent booster dose. She has lived in Phuentsholing since 2019 and currently works as a cook in Lucky Restaurant and Bar.  

A task force member, Rixin Jamtsho said she had a sore throat and had recovered on Thursday earlier this week. However, she tested positive on Friday.

From the four primary contacts (co-workers and family members of the owner), Rixin Jamtsho said all of them tested negative.

He added that the woman claims she hardly gets time to meet anyone in the restaurant as she is most of the time busy in the kitchen, and the owner and the co-workers do the shopping for the restaurant, which usually get customers from the peri-urban areas in Phuentsholing.

“She said she doesn’t have any known medical conditions,” Rixin Jamtsho said, adding that about 200 samples were collected for testing so far.

Talking on the possibility of the lockdown extension, Rixin Jamtsho said it would depend on the results of the contact tracing.

“If new cases are detected from the community during the ongoing contact tracing, then there will be an extension of the lockdown. If we don’t detect any case or detect only one or two cases, we will lift the restriction in a phased-wise manner, but not everything at a time,” he said.

However, the official said the case investigation and review report of the index case show that she has not traveled or mixed with friends from the outside and all the primary contacts, who were tested, had negative results. There is a hope that the spread will not be large enough to extend the lockdown.

“But we can’t assure or say anything with full confidence at this point of time,” he added.

And about possibilities of the lockdown being imposed in other dzongkhags, Rixin Jamtsho said it is only a matter of time given the massive surge in Covid-19 cases and the Omicron variants in India.

He said West Bengal in India alone reported more than 14,000 cases within the last 24 hours and that the import of foreign workers and the daily import and export have been still going on in Phuentsholing, which possess risks of people breaching the Covid-19 protocols due to porous borders.

He said if the case is detected in the community, the dzongkhag task force may have to implement 24 hours of black out  to assess the risks and carry out contact tracing.

Meanwhile, the Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC19TF) in Phuentsholing urges people who have met with the cook or visited the Lucky Restaurant and Bar to visit the nearest testing centers.

The SC19TF has also located three Covid-19 testing centers for people coming forward – bus booking in mega-zone 1, flu clinic in mega-zone 2, and Pasakha clinic in mega-zone 3. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has requested everyone to follow the Covid-19 safety protocols put in place by the ministry at all times and urged people to stay safe.

Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing