… all positive cases in last 96 hours were contacts of those who tested positive earlier 

Younten Tshedup

Thirteen days after the first Covid-19 case outside the quarantine facilities in Thimphu, the country continues to record at least 11 positive cases of Covid-19 daily.

The last 24 hours saw 19 new cases of which 18 were detected among contacts of earlier cases in Thimphu. One was detected in an expat worker who was in quarantine in Samdrupjongkhar.

In less than two weeks, the spread of the virus has been recorded in eight dzongkhags with Thimphu and Paro reporting the highest numbers almost every day.

After recording the highest of 36 local cases in a day on December 25, the average daily detection of positive cases hovers at around 18 cases today.

Of the 243 positive cases detected since December 20, Thimphu and Paro alone recorded more than  91 percent of the total cases. This was also because multiple clusters in the two dzongkhags have reported local transmission of the outbreak.

Local transmission means positive cases detected from the flu clinics and during the mass surveillance and not from contacts of the previously infected individuals.  However, for the last 96 hours, there were no positive cases detected from either of the two sources.

Sowai Lyonpo (health minister) Dechen Wangmo said that although positive cases were detected from six other dzongkhags, they were all contacts of those who had tested positive from either Thimphu or Paro. “So far there is no local spread of the virus in these dzongkhags.”

Lyonpo said that besides tracing and testing the close contacts, the ministry was randomly testing all the areas where the infected people had visited in these dzongkhags.

As of yesterday, there were nine positive cases detected in Bumthang, five in Dagana, two in Punakha and once each in Haa, Trongsa, and Wangdue.

In the rest of the 12 dzongkhags, the minister said that strategic screening was ongoing, where mobile individuals (shopkeepers, drivers) were randomly selected and tested. “Our worry was that if we had missed out positive cases in these places. However, none of the individuals has tested positive in these dzongkhags so far.”

Except for Gasa, Trashiyangtse, and Samdrupjongkhar, contacts of positive cases have reached all across the country.

In Thimphu, Lyonpo said that residents of the red buildings (buildings from where positive cases have been detected) would be all tested. Of the 58 red buildings identified, 757 residents in 29 buildings were tested. Only one has tested positive from such a facility so far.

“We would also be conducting cluster sweeping in all localities where there is a concentration of positive cases, particularly in Thimphu and Paro.” 

The ministry so far has conducted over 60,000 RT-PCR and antigen tests since the outbreak of the virus. “Our strategy is aggressive testing, effective tracing and early treatment,” Lyonpo added.