National COVID-19 Taskforce decides unlocking the 18 Dzongkhags starting today

National COVID-19 Taskforce decides unlocking the 18 Dzongkhags starting today

The regional taskforces and district authorities will decide and announce the implementation dates of the relaxations of activities in their respective areas

Staff Reporter

from Thimphu


All schools, colleges and institutes in across 18 Dzongkhags and selected gewogs of Thimphu and Paro can now reopen, albeit with strict monitoring of the health of students and staff, as the National COVID-19 Taskforce (NC19TF) yesterday apprised unlocking these places from existing restrictions starting today.

Except for those entities which pose high risks, shops, offices and private businesses in those districts can also open with permission also to resume construction works.

Further, inter-dzongkhag movements will also be allowed, but travelers must register with the Check Post Management System prior to their travel.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the development is the result of the persistent efforts of containing the spread of COVID-19 seeing fruition and that the lockdown having proven to be effective as the disease spread has been contained to a great extent.

“The decision is purely based on the screening programs initiated in the last three days, where almost 18,000 tests and several confirmatory ones were carried out in the districts to rule out any presence of the disease,” states the press release from the PMO’s office, adding that people in these districts can now return to life within the COVID-19 norms that prevailed before this lockdown.

For the first phase of unlocking in the districts on January 6, which allowed movement within the dzongkhag, each district conducted a minimum of 300 tests on random samples, according to the PMO. Since further unlocking meant more tests, the number was doubled by way of sweeping the districts for any indication.

“These are in addition to other screenings carried out in the districts, that add up to more than 52,000 tests since the nationwide lockdown on December 23, 2020. Since then, over 135,000 tests have been conducted in the country altogether,” states the press release.

It has also been stated that even for areas that were indicated as yellow zones, intensive contact tracings, isolation of the cases from the community, and additional sweeps were carried out. With all results showing negative, it serves as an epidemiological evidence to conclude that the 18 districts are free of COVID-19.

Alongside the easing of more restrictions, it was also divulged that the health ministry has been instructed to heighten the surveillance throughout the country to pick the slightest of early outbreaks.

However, it will be the regional taskforces and district authorities that will decide and announce the implementation dates of the relaxations of activities in their respective areas.

For Thimphu and Paro, where mass testing of the population is being carried out as a major step to reinforce scanning of the disease in the community, it was informed that the sample collection in Paro is complete, while the testing in Thimphu engages one member from every household to arrive at a safe level of indication to start unlocking.

Since the outbreak is contained, and the number of cases manageable, according to the PMO, the outcome of the screening will furnish the evidence to pursue smart unlocking in Thimphu and Paro.

The government will make announcements as and when the screenings are complete.

“Meanwhile, with all other districts clean, it is evident that the possible source of cases would be the high risks areas, and Thimphu or Paro for now. Which is why all efforts will be made to seal leakages with proper monitoring and surveillance protocols, including quarantine,” states the press release.

Staff Reporter from Thimphu