Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Almost three months after the longest lockdown in Phuentsholing was lifted, a Covid-19 protocol breach occurred in Phuentsholing on November 8.

A 35-year-old Bhutanese man, who was working as a driver in Jaigaon, is alleged to have entered Phuentsholing illegally and discreetly used a jungle route below the Kharbandi Goenpa.

According to official sources, the driver stayed across the border just opposite Pemaling. “After entering the town, he went to the Amochhu temporary shelter to meet his wife and two daughters. The couple has been married for the last 13 years,” a source said.

The Regional Inspection Team (RIT) received information about the man’s visit and immediately informed the police.

The police investigation found that the man had come to meet his family at 5:30am and visited his family at the Amochhu settlement at 7:30am.

Sources said the man then left the place at 9:30am, suspecting his wife might complain about his illegal entry to the police.

The man was later arrested in front of a government office building and taken to the health declaration centre.

Police officials said the exact route of entry would be established only after the completion of his quarantine period.

The suspect has been quarantined in one of the hotels after conducting all required Covid-19 tests. He will undergo quarantine for 21 days. He has also tested negative for Covid-19 in the RT-PCR test.

His wife and daughters are under strict home quarantine.

Sources said the case will be forwarded to the court when the suspect completes his quarantine period.

“He will be charged under Section 410 of the Penal Code for ‘criminal nuisance’ and Section 448 for ‘breach of public order and tranquillity,’” a source said.

It was learnt that the 35-year-old man who entered Phuentsholing illegally was also unvaccinated.

Officials said that although he tested negative, they cannot conclusively decide if he is really negative.

The Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC19TF) members are visiting all Points of Entries (PoE) to meet and interact with frontliners along the entire border stretch in Phuentsholing.

Although Phuentsholing is bouncing back to normalcy with no positive cases emerging from the community, cases are increasing in some places in West Bengal, India.

A task force member, Rixin Jamtsho, said it is festival season across the border, and without any knowledge of how many Covid-19 positive cases are there in the community, if there is illegal movement of people, there is a high chance the virus will enter Phuentsholing.

On November 8, West Bengal reported 723 new cases and 11 deaths. Assam reported 137 new cases and two deaths.

Meanwhile, people in Phuentsholing are becoming complacent. Many people are not wearing their face masks properly. Many have stopped their handwashing habits and using the Druk Trace app.

As per the SC19TF bulletin of November 7, five percent of the total 150 people counted walking in the town, including those inside the shops, were not wearing their facemasks appropriately. On November 4, 10 percent of a total of 250 people did not wear their facemasks properly.

“Wearing masks will also save people from other respiratory diseases,” Rixin Jamtsho said.