Phub Dem | Paro
It is unusually quiet in Paro international airport. Although there are hundreds of passengers flying in, the airport campus wears a deserted look.
Unlike the regular homecoming excitement, the passengers, mostly students, look anxious and are silent. Parents keep a safe distance. Some have come to drop SIM cards and food for their beloved.
The passengers are then directly taken to quarantine centres.
In the last two days, Paro international airport saw 876 stranded Bhutanese fly in from India, Nepal, and Singapore.
Four hundred and thirty-eight passengers who arrived on March 21 were accommodated in 23 quarantine centres in Paro along with 274 passengers that arrived in the country earlier.
Yesterday, six flights brought home 438 Bhutanese. Of the total, 398 passengers were sent to seven quarantine centres in Thimphu because the centres in Paro were filled.
Twenty-nine passengers were kept in separate rooms because they showed flu-like symptoms during the screening process. And nine were sent for home quarantined.
Assistant District Health Officer, Karma Chendup, said that all 21 swap samples from the first batch tested negative. Eight more swap samples yesterday were sent for examination.
Fourteen Bhutanese are reportedly stranded in Delhi after showing flu-like symptoms.
Karma Chendup said that the government had directed to accommodate the passengers in hotels and resorts because the quarantine facilities identified by the government such as the Rinpung campus in Paro lacked basic facilities.
The foreign minister, Dr Tandi Dorji, said that additional flights were sent to bring Bhutanese stranded in India home.
Lyonpo said that 26 students who registered with the airlines could not be accommodated. They were asked to either arrange domestic flight till Bagdogra and bus till Phuntsholing.
“There are more than 26 Bhutanese in India and around the globe, but we are bringing those who have booked air tickets,” he said.
Lyonpo said that there was a plan to send separate airbus to pick Bhutanese from the Middle East if the situation became serious.
Bhutanese in the Middle East whom Kuensel talked to said that they were home quarantined and everything was fine.
Drukair and Bhutan Airlines started additional flights to bring in stranded Bhutanese before India closes international flights. Drukair has planned an additional Singapore-Paro flight today.