Test confirmed by WHO field staffs in Bihar

Chimi Dema

An Indian youth in Bodhgaya reportedly infected with the deadly coronavirus has tested negative to the virus, the health ministry informed allaying fears and rumors that the disease has spread to Bodhgaya where many Bhutanese visit for pilgrimage.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) field staffs in Bihar confirmed the test.

According to sources, the youth who returned from China in January was put under observation in the isolation ward of the Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College in Gaya, on February 7 when he visited the hospitals outpatient department complaining of common cold, fever and cough.

The health ministry, through a press release, stated that about 58,834 individuals were screened at various points of entry so far assuring that all diagnosis and surveillance initiatives were in place to prevent the virus from entering the country.

According to the press release, a total of 29 persons showed fever and symptoms of a lower respiratory illness including cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. But the officials confirmed that they did not fulfil the case definition of coronavirus.

The WHO officially named the disease caused by the new coronavirus as COVID-19.

Meanwhile, from February 2 to 11, 129 tourists cancelled their visits due to the outbreak of the virus. About 65 tourists cancelled their visas yesterday, of which 34 attributed the cancellation to the virus outbreak.

However, the Director General with Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Dorji Dradhul said that the council receives more new bookings than the cancellations.

It was learnt that the TCB refunds the royalty paid by tourists who are cancelling their visits and Drukair is refunding their airfare.

The press release stated that  travellers entering the country and fulfilling the case definition of coronavirus ‘COVID-19’, would be subjected to COVID-19 test, quarantined for laboratory confirmation and isolated until proven negative at the point of entry. The travellers would be quarantined and isolated as per the ministry’s protocol.

Infrastructure Preparedness

The two infrared thermal scanners procured by the WHO arrived in the country on February 8 and would be set up at the Paro International Airport and the point of entry in Phuentsholing to strengthen measures in terms of both screening and response in case of an outbreak.

The health ministry has also procured 120 hand-held thermometers and supplied them to all the points of entry.

Two trainer teams have been formed to conduct training of trainers on all aspects of surveillance and response including case management, infection control and use of physical protection equipment, sample collection and transport.

In addition to the 20 beds and five critical care units isolation facility at the Thimphu national referral hospital, three Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds have been identified. Two ICU beds were identified in Gelephu Regional Referral Hospital.

Additional beds and other amenities for quarantine and isolation rooms at Paro International Airport were also supplied on February 11, the press release stated.

While no test kits were available globally to conduct rapid tests for COVID-19, real time Polymerase chain reaction, a laboratory technique to make copies of a DNA could be done to confirm the virus infection.

As of yesterday, infection worldwide has reached 45,171 with the virus claiming 1,115 lives, according to the WHO’s records.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has so far spread to 24 countries outside China.