Younten Tshedup

With the lone COVID-19 positive patient evacuated to his country, the USA yesterday, Bhutan, for now, is free of COVID-19.

The 76-year-old American tourist left the country for further medical treatment following request from his family members and in close coordination with the US government through its mission in Delhi.

The patient was evacuated in a special Phoenix air ambulance N163PA from Paro international airport around 4pm yesterday. The medically equipped aircraft has all the necessary facilities manned with registered nurses and paramedics, according to the health ministry.

Immediately after he was confirmed positive on March 5, he was placed under the best medical care attended by the Bhutanese medical experts at the national referral hospital.

 “He was managed in the isolation ward identified for COVID-19 patients and given the best care by a team of dedicated medical professionals,” a helath ministry press release stated.

The patient was identified with multiple pre-existing medical conditions, which put him under high risk of complications. Considering his age, the underlying health conditions and the current infection, the patient required oxygen support from the day of admission. As his oxygen requirement increased, he was put on ventilator support from the third day in the isolation ward.

Kuensel learnt that the tourist had undergone multiple major operations before and was on more than three medications. Given that the new coronavirus has shown to be more malignant on the ageing population, the patient’s underlying health conditions had put him under high risk.

However, the clinical team at the national referral hospital had also sought advice from an infectious disease specialist in Singapore who had experience in COVID-19 management.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the patient was given the same antiviral regime that was used in Japan, Singapore, and Thailand. “We were giving him the best treatment that was available in consultation with the family physician. We did all we could,” Lyonchhen said.

He said that His Majesty The King was deeply concerned about his well being and had personally instructed the government to give the patient special treatment.

The health ministry officials including the minister and the Prime Minister were in constant touch with the patient’s family members since the day he was admitted to the hospital.

The patient’s partner, who has tested negative for the virus after two tests, remains under quarantine in the country.