Younten Tshedup 

A 22-year-old chef has been quarantined after he had come in contact with “potentially exposed cash” that was tossed from a quarantine facility in Thimphu on April 26.

On Sunday, at around 7pm, a person in a quarantine facility had thrown Nu 400 from the window, which was then picked up by the chef. It was learnt that there was another person with the chef during the incident. However, he had not touched the cash. Starting Monday, the chef has been put under quarantine for 21 days.

Officials from the health ministry said that given the assumption that everyone inside quarantine are “potentially infected” until proven otherwise, any item coming out of the facility has to be considered contaminated.

As per the quarantine protocol that is explained to all those entering the facilities, shifting or moving anything out of the facilities including dishes, cloths and other items is strictly prohibited.

Health officials said that this is to reduce the risks of cross-infection and spread of the disease. Save for critical items such as prescribed medicines, nothing goes out of the facility without prior information.

Individuals failing to comply shall be liable of the offence of criminal nuisance as per section 410 of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2011 and for the offence of obstruction of public service as per section 424 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004.

Officials said that in Thimphu alone, they had experienced four similar incidents so far, where people from inside the quarantine were deceitfully sending out items like shoes, clothes and other goods to their friends and families outside. Most of these incidents took place during the night.

“Like His Majesty The King said, it would take only one ignorant person to jeopardize our whole effort to prevent this disease from spreading in our communities,” said an official.

Despite constant reminders, officials said that people inside quarantine continue to throw leftovers from the balcony and windows. “Disposing food waste in this manner is dangerous. The possible contaminated food could infect the dogs outside who eats the leftovers, increasing the chances to spread the disease.”

Every room in the quarantine facility is provided with separate waste bins for general and food waste. Once filled, the waste is carefully collected, disinfected and then taken by Greener Way for incineration.

“There are no particular guidelines from the WHO on the disposal of waste from quarantine facility but we are taking all the precaution as a part of our preventive approach to tackle this disease,” said the official.