Nima | Gelephu

Sarpang has reported community cases beyond red clusters in Gelephu and Sarpang Central School in the past two days, and the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force imposed a complete lockdown in all gewogs yesterday.

While movement within and outside the gewogs are not allowed, respective gewog administration will work in containment mode and provide essential delivery services.

However, farming, gardening, and cattle herding within the premises of households are allowed, according to the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force.

Sarpang reported more than 200 cases from the community and primary contacts in the past 10 days where most cases were from red clusters in Gelephu and Sarpang CS until Jigmecholing and Umling gewogs reported community cases this week.

Four community cases were reported from Umling yesterday.

Three individuals from Chhokhorling and Pemathang chiwog in Gelephu gewog tested positive on June 25.

Out of 138 new cases reported yesterday, 19 cases were from Sarpang, including 10 contacts, five community cases, and one imported case.

Sarpang dzongdag Lobzang Dorji, who is the incident commander of the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force, said lockdown is seen as the most effective means to break the chain of local transmission.

“We received input from the surveillance team that if we continue with the zone system and let people move within the communities or facilitate those stranded, there is still movement of people. The only effective tool is to break that movement,” he said.

Lobzang Dorji said there are people who moved to Sarpang before the outbreak. “People from other gewogs are also stranded in Gelephu and Sarpang.”

He said that containing the outbreak becomes challenging having to address logistical issues such as essential service delivery and facilitating the movement of stranded people after reporting outbreaks in the community.

“It was easier to facilitate essential delivery and people could move within zones in earlier lockdowns when there was no local transmission,” Lobzang Dorji said. “It’s bit difficult to make this lockdown bearable and convenient. We have to be extremely careful while facilitating. The main focus is to contain the outbreak.”

Jigmecholing gup Kumar Gurung said it is challenging to make people aware of the lockdown. “We need to make them aware to avoid inconveniences. We are not sure how long the lockdown will be imposed.”

He said that there are people from Jigmecholing who travel to Gelephu for shopping in the winter and stock essentials for summer. “We need to look into these needs and plan properly. We might face problems related to essentials.”

Gakidling gup Nim Dorji said shops identified in the gewogs will remain closed and a committee in the gewog will do the essential delivery until the situation improves.

“There won’t be many problems with essential service delivery but delivering livestock feeds will be challenging. Gewogs have only one vehicle.”

He said officials working in containment mode will be tested before starting to deliver service in the gewog. “A committee formed within the gewog will also be collecting essentials from Gelephu during lockdown time.”

The taskforce has not specified how long the lockdown will remain.