Close to 1,700 traced and tested after local Covid-19 outbreak in Thimphu

Younten Tshedup 

Following a local Covid-19 outbreak in Thimphu, eight people have tested positive for the virus as of last night.

This includes the 25-year-old index patient who tested positive from the flu clinic in Thimphu on December 19. She had visited the flu clinic at the RBP ground with symptoms. The results were reconfirmed yesterday, triggering a complete lockdown of the capital city and its periphery settlements.

Seven of her primary contacts including four children also tested positive for the virus yesterday. As of last night, 800 people were traced in connection to the eight positive cases.

A total of 1,683 people were traced through the Druk Trace app including those from the locality where the cases lived. The host family of the 25-year-old woman resides at the centre of town — above the Centenary Farmer’s Market and below the works and human settlement ministry.

RT-PCR results were awaited as of 12 midnight yesterday. Depending on the test results, the duration and extent of the lockdown would be decided.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering during a live address to the nation last night said that the woman had recently returned from Gelephu. However, she tested negative for the virus during the RT-PCR test at the end of the seven-day quarantine. As per the Covid-19 protocol, she was quarantined for seven days before travelling from higher-risk area to lower-risk area.

This could mean that the woman was infected while in Thimphu. Lyonchhen said that for now, it was unclear if she was the first person to catch the virus in the locality.

However, he said that looking at the level of antibodies in their bodies, they could have been infected around 11 to 12 days ago. This also meant that the virus may not be widespread in the community.

The health ministry has requested any individual who has travelled outside Thimphu on or after December 7 to get tested. Lyonchhen said that almost 38,000 people have travelled to the 19 dzongkhags from the capital since December 7.

He added that any individual with flu-like symptoms must immediately visit the flu clinics and get tested. To facilitate testing during the lockdown, the health ministry has opened additional flu clinics in places like Taba, Depsi, Samtenling, Zilukha, and Olakha.

Despite the lockdown, Lyonchhen said that people suffering from flu-like symptoms and want to get tested would be allowed to move.

Meanwhile, the 25-year-old woman who was travelling abroad for her studies had also visited several offices including financial institutions and a monastery. However, Lyonchhen said that she readily cooperated with the surveillance team and had used the face mask religiously.

One of her contacts who was travelling to the east had also been to several places along the highway. He had reached Trongsa when the surveillance team traced him following the detection of the positive case in Thimphu.

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