Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

With the lockdown in India, the number of Bhutanese entering Phuentsholing has decreased. Only eight people entered the border town yesterday. All were quarantined.

However, with yesterday’s eight Bhutanese, the coronavirus (Covid-19) response team in Phuentsholing has quarantined a total of 1,050 Bhutanese in different hotels.

Prior to India’s lockdown, RSTA had also arranged 12 buses to pick up Bhutanese from Bagdogra on three different occasions and brought back 368 Bhutanese to Phuentsholing, who are all quarantined. No buses were sent after the lockdown in India.

Government made it mandatory to quarantine Bhutanese entering into the country on March 16. On the first day of mandatory quarantining, Phuentsholing response team quarantined 26 Bhutanese, mostly students returning from Sikkim. They are yet to conclude their 14 days’ quarantine.

Meanwhile, the number of hotels offered as quarantine centres have doubled.

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan (HRAB) representative in Chukha, Jigme Tshering said that there are a total of 43 hotels as quarantine centres. The number of beds has increased to 1,477 from 548 beds.

This includes both hotels under the association and others with 35 hotels used as quarantine facilities.

Initially, 22 hotels have offered the facilities. These hoteliers have offered their volunteer services and just asked for a minimal fee of Nu 600 for the three meals per day.

However, in his recent visit to Phuentsholing, the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering met with the hoteliers and promised to top-up the charges with the condition that hoteliers retain their staffs.