Bhutan’s Covid-19 status so far so good: Health Minister 

Younten Tshedup

While the country’s Covid-19 tally has been increasing, there has been zero death. The country recorded 34 new Covid-19 positive cases last month, but the country’s recovery rate is 83 percent.

Of the 78 Covid-19 positive cases as of yesterday, 51 have been declared recovered.The figure however, is taking into consideration the most stringent practice to prevent any local transmission of the virus.

In Bhutan, besides testing negative twice in 24 hours, a person has to complete a mandatory two-week de-isolation period outside the hospital’s isolation ward to be declared as recovered. At the end of the two weeks, if the person does not have any symptom, they are considered recovered.

With the current record of all individuals testing negative after the two-week de-isolation period and considering the general idea of recovery, which is testing negative twice in 24 hours while at the isolation ward, the country today has only eight active cases.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that all the eight patients at the isolation ward were in stable condition. Lyonpo said that on an average positive the patients stayed for 11 days at the isolation ward.

The longest stay was recorded at 32 days. Minimum was six days.

 

At the isolation

The high rate of recovery of Covid-19 patients, according to medical superintendent with the national referral hospital, Dr Gosar Pemba, is the age specific.

Majority of the patients have so far been between the ages of 25 and 30 years with a comparatively stronger immune system.   

He said that most of the patients were asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms, meaning the patients did not require any critical support.

Dr Gosar Pemba said that so far only three Covid-19 patients had to be put on supplementary oxygen support, as they had shown symptoms of mild pneumonia.

Of the three, two have been removed to the de-isolation facility. The one at the isolation has also been taken off the oxygen support.

He said that the stages of pneumonia differed from one patient to another. “We have mild, moderate and severe pneumonia cases and we have to treat them accordingly, step by step,” the medical superintendent said.

He explained that it was medically not recommended to place a patient directly on a ventilator. “Only if the supplementary oxygen supply is not enough we then consider putting the patient on the machine.”

Dr Gosar Pemba said that there were risks of introducing ventilator-associated pneumonia and other infections if ventilators are directly used on the patients. The machine support is provided as a last resort during a treatment.

So far, none of the Covid-19 patients in the country had to be put on the ventilator.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo described the country’s current status as ‘good’ for now.

However, Dr Gosar Pemba cautioned that should there be a community transmission and a large segment of population gets infected, the current understanding that young people recover from the infection could change as health support could come under pressure due to overwhelming cases.  

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