Three-day mass testing for Covid-19 begins in Thimphu

The initiative is to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus

To assess the extent of the Covid-19 virus spread in the capital and break the chain of transmission, the three-day mass Covid-19 testing for Thimphu began starting yesterday.

The testing for Thimphu’s North Megazone was done yesterday, while testing for the Core 1 Megazone and Core 2 Megazone is scheduled today. Mass testing for Thimphu’s South Megazone will be held tomorrow (January 30).

As per the announcement made by Health Minister on the BBS Television on Thursday, the three-day mass testing for Covid-19 was announced for the entire population of Thimphu after the capital reported a total of six new cases (5 Community, 1 Contact) from Kabesa and Changzamtog. For almost six days, Thimphu had then not reported any community cases.

Meanwhile, during the three-day mass testing, the movement within the mega zone is restricted along with the Prime Minister’s Office stopping the facilitation of movement of stranded people from the capital from Thursday evening.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said, “The mass testing will help rule out any residual cases in the community.”

With the mass testing having started, movement has been restricted and narrowed down from megazones to respective zones for Thimphu thromde and its periphery starting yesterday morning.

People are now allowed to move only within their zones and for movement within zones, they have to follow the time indicated on the cards.

Besides the movement of cars being disallowed, in megazones where sample collections take place, shops have been asked to remain closed, while in other megazones, shops can open.

According to the health ministry’s notification, one individual from an alternate household/unit from every building/structure will be tested and that the Desuups on duty will be notifying the selected households on the time and site of testing.

The health ministry has, therefore, requested the residents of Thimthrom to kindly cooperate with the front-liners on duty and get themselves tested to break the chain of transmission.

While appearing on the BBS Television on Thursday, the Health Minister said it is a matter of big concern with the country having detected over 100 community cases in a week and even more so looking at the total figure of cases during the period of the current lockdown.

“The current lockdown is even more concerning than the second lockdown last year. We only had roughly 1,300 cases in four or five months, but we now have around 1,500 cases in just two weeks, with 1,134 being community cases,” the minister said, emphasizing on the extremely transmissible and contagious nature of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 compared to the Delta variant.

Meanwhile, even the Delta variant was reported to be eight times more transmissible than the original Wuhan Covid-19 virus.

Along with Thimphu, other districts like Wangduephodrang, Chhukha, Samtse, Sarpang and Samdrup Jongkhar will also conduct mass testing in their districts starting from January 28 to February 5, 2022, according to the health ministry.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister has also urged people (around 20,000 in Thimphu), who are eligible for Covid-19 vaccines, but are not vaccinated to come for the jab.

“The vaccination will reduce the risk of infection to the vulnerable population, including more than 90,000 elderly people and 130,000 children who are not vaccinated,” the minister said.

The minister also mentioned that the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital has sent several medical specialists and technical advisors to the red zone areas in the country. 

According to the MoH, there are 1.646 active cases of Covid-19 in the country as of January 28, 2022.

The health ministry yesterday also reported the fourth death in the country from Covid-19 after a 34-year-old female COVID-19 positive patient passed away in Thimphu during the early hour yesterday morning.

The deceased was reportedly a chronic kidney patient on dialysis and was referred from Phuentsholing.

According to the health ministry, the patient succumbed to cardiac complications due to underlying chronic kidney disease probably exacerbated by active COVID-19 infection.

Meanwhile, Bhutan has reported a total of 4,225 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far since March 5, 2020.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu