To prevent disruption of essential health services, the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) will not be able to cater to referral services for some time. However, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is sending different teams of specialists to other referral hospitals.
According to Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo, JDWNRH is a restricted area now. “We can’t imagine what will happen if one person infected with COVID enters the hospital; if the virus spreads in the hospital we will not be able to control it,” she said.
The ministry is sending the specialists to referral hospitals in different dzongkhags to cater specialized health services in regions other than the capital. “We are sending them to Wangduephodrang, Mongar, Gelephu, Phuentsholing, and Trashigang referral hospitals soon,” she said.
However, Lyonpo shared that health analysis revealed that the outbreak could have been far worse if people had not adhered to the COVID-19 prevention protocols.
“Because of our diligence and adherence to measures such as mask use, physical distancing and hand hygiene, we managed to limit the impact of the current outbreak,” said Lyonpo.
Lyonpo said people in the green zones cannot afford to be complacent “as a new outbreak can occur anytime if we are careless. Each one of us must assume that we are potential carriers of the virus and take due precaution at all times”.
“The outbreak is still in an acute phase so it is important that everyone strictly adhere to the lockdown protocols.”
To avoid crowding at the hospital during times of medicine refill, the ministry has identified one shop in each zone as an access point to facilitate medicine refills. Patients who are on long-term medication for chronic diseases and who require medicine refill can drop their prescription with their contact details at the identified shops.
Health staff would collect the prescription, collect the medicine from the pharmacy and drop it back at the same shop. The turnaround time is 24 hours, meaning, if the prescription is dropped today, the refill can be collected the next day.
Lyonpo urged everyone to sincerely practice the public health measures while going out of their homes. “Wearing face mask outside is mandatory.”
Lyonpo said that the outbreak seems to be “slightly different” this time and more infectious because 44 affected households are in “pretty bad” condition with majority of household members infected.
Fourteen high-risk clusters in Thimphu have been swept of which 10 individuals tested positive so far. Further, of the 53 red buildings that were swept till date, eight individuals tested positive.
Lyonpo also shared that the health ministry is exploring all possible channels to get COVID – 19 vaccines at the earliest and the Foreign Affairs Minister who is an expert on vaccines and immunization is leading this assignment for the government.
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu