Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Health has directed about Nu 40 million from the cancellation of official international travel to fight Coronavirus or Covid-19 cases in the country.

A 76-year-old American tourist was detected with Covid-19 at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital on March 5, Thursday.

He is the first and only Covid-19 case so far in Bhutan so far.

“Until last night there was no reason to panic. When there is a solid reason to panic, we must panic,” said Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering. “But that we have been able to contact trace all the people is a sign that we have prepared well.”

In what is indicative of commendable preparedness level, health professionals with the support of private individuals have been able to contact trace all 27 people with whom the tourist had direct or indirect contact.

Contact tracing done was done successfully between midnight Thursday and six AM yesterday. Contacts are being put on self-quarantine.

If the first or direct first contacts test positive, then fixing the second contacts and tertiary contacts will be given special priority. Health professionals are providing health advisory and monitoring them.

Bhutan developed the first preparedness plan was on January 11 to Covid-19 pandemic. The plan’s goal was prevention but as the pandemic reached the region, Bhutan adopted containment, early detection and clinical management as top priorities.

“There is no medicine. There is only supportive care,” said Health Minister Dechen Wangmo. “Even globally, there is no rapid test kit.”

Prime minister said that financial resources from the cancellation of international travel from the ministries would be pulled and directed to health ministry to fight Covid-19 cases in the country.

What is encouraging at such times is that the Bhutanese are coming together to manage and contain the pandemic. Yesterday, the representatives of private sector met with prime minister asked the government how they could help.

The president of Bhutan Football Federation, Dasho Ugyen Tsechup Dorji, said that should the situation worsen, “we are here to offer all our support, like providing food and logistics during quarantine. We cannot leave everything to the government.”