…1,474 in facility quarantine 

Yangchen C Rinzin 

The government has so far spent Nu 248.279 million on hotels that served as quarantine facilities for 14,667 people as of yesterday.

Of the total 14,667 quarantined since March, 89 percent or 13,059 were discharged so far.

Today, there are 1,608 people in the quarantine facility, including 262 people quarantined in the last 24 hours.

Hoteliers offered their hotels as facility quarantine when the government made it mandatory for those returning from abroad to undergo a 21-day quarantine. The government agreed to pay hoteliers, as a support and to avoid laying off of staff and they were paid at the end of the quarantine period.

The government pays Nu 1,000 for a single bed and Nu 1,500 for a double bed for budget hotels. The charges increase to Nu 1,200 and Nu 2,000 for single and double beds in 3-star hotels and for the 4-star hotels, it is Nu 1,500 and Nu 2,500.

The cost is inclusive of three meals, evening snacks, and room charges. The rate is paid on a per person per day basis. Meals are provided based on the menu set by the health ministry.

The expenses are met from the Covid-19 fund, according to Cabinet Secretary Sangay Duba.

Cabinet Secretary, who oversees the quarantine facility protocol, said that hoteliers who voluntarily offered their services have not withdrawn. His team uses the facilities on a rotation basis specified by the health ministry to give an equal chance to all hoteliers.

There are almost 200 hotels across dzongkhags designated as facility quarantine of which most are in Thimphu (56 hotels) hosting about 300 individuals at present. Paro has 44 hotels with 114 people in quarantine.

Sangay Duba said most of those in quarantine today are primary and secondary contacts of Covid-19 positive cases. With schools re-opening, students returning from high-risk areas are quarantined in the facilities too. 

Others include those visiting other low-risk dzongkhags.

“Since there is lack of facilities in places like Samtse and Sarpang, students are sent to other dzongkhags for quarantine before returning to schools,” the cabinet secretary said.

“We try to quarantine students in the nearest dzongkhag so that we can send them directly to schools after completion of the quarantine period of seven days.”

More than 300 students were brought from Samtse yesterday and were sent to Haa, Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, and Wangdue where they will be quarantined for seven days.

Sangay Duba said that a few had come forward to pay for the quarantine themselves but were asked to deposit the money directly to the Covid-19 fund and not to pay to hoteliers directly.

“Some parents wanted to bear the cost of quarantine, we advised the same if they wish to pay. It’s a government’s policy to bear the cost of quarantine so we cannot ask them to pay for the quarantine facility.”

Sangay Duba said that a De-Suup escorts those returning from high-risk areas in a bus till destination and they are directly quarantined. Others travelling in private cars or taxis are advised not to stop anywhere and go to the destination straight.

“Otherwise, people are quarantined before travelling where there are enough facility quarantines in dzongkhag.”

However, those from Project DANTAK and IMTRAT who were quarantined in the facilities have paid for their own quarantine, including few diplomats.

“We did not make them pay us or the hotels, but asked them to deposit into the Covid-19 fund.”