COVID-19 Press Conference #9

3:40:Agriculture minister appeals to farmers to not refrain from selling their produce in the markets. We also urge them not to hike prices of their produce: minister.

 

3:36:Foreign Minister says all coming in from COVID-19 affected countries would be quarantined for 14 days. Those coming from 8-highly affected countries would be placed at the selected quarantine sites.

 

3:34: Foreign Minister says helpline 2121 has recorded 15 prank calls since yesterday. The callers could be traced by law enforcement agencies and prosecuted as per law.

 

3:31: Foreign Minister, who is also a Medical doctor, says regular health services are in operation and people could visit the health centers to avail check ups and medications in time. “Drinking alcoholic doesn’t prevent the virus”.

 

3:28: Foreign Minister says Bhutanese should refrain from spreading FAKE news and only distribute genuine information from health ministry, WHO and the Prime Minister’s Office.

 

3:26:  With many offering their own homes and vacant apartments as quarantine centers, we have enough space to accommodate more than 100,000 people in quarantine:PM.

We also have enough budget for the responses to the disease but the voluntary contributions that are pouring in everyday to help the government are welcome:PM.

 

3:21: This morning, a group of teachers have deposited Nu 1.2 million in donations with the PM to help the government’s efforts in responding to COVID-19.

 

3:19: Despite great risks to their own health and lives, the 16 health officials are deeply committed and dedicated in their efforts to treat the COVID-19 patient: PM.

“They have expressed clearly that it is their professional responsibility to attend to the American tourist who is sick.”

 

3:13: In a show of continued exemplary friendship, Indian government reassured continued support to maintain continuity in the supply of Medicine, Food items, and fuel for Bhutan even if situation worsens in India: PM.

 

3:09: The agriculture ministry also working on increasing local production to replace food imports in the long run too: Agriculture minister.

 

3:09: Agriculture minister Yeshey Penjore says to stop panic buying as there is enough essential food stocks to last for three months.

 

3:07: PM urges all Bhutanese to treat visitors with respect. “There is no risk unless you maintain a meter distance from each other.”

 

3:01: PM says schools could reopen as scheduled.

 

2:55: PM says opening the country up for tourists any time soon would be difficult and he sees very little possibility. As the disease is spreading world over there would be not much interest to travel given the risks, he said.

 

2:55: Prime Minister says the country has incurred USD 2.2 millions in losses besides other costs since the detection of the first COVID-19 case.

 

2:46: PM calls on all Bhutanese to be responsible and bear with the inconveniences.

 

2:46: The Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said the pandemic will hurt small economies like that of Bhutan. For that preventing the spread of the disease is critical.

More than 1,000 hotels and about 50,000 working in the service sector will be affected by the disease. While it is important to restrict travel of tourists, many would incur losses in income due to drop of business.

A task force is working on economic response package in the wake of the COVID-19 with five teams from various sectors. As we talk, four economists are working in my office and the Members of Parliament are also working on effective response measures through a committee.

 

2:37: The Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said all travellers returning home from abroad must be honest with their travel history. This is essential for the government to take response measures accordingly.

 

2:37: The Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said retest of samples from those in quarantine is not needed unless there are symptoms. One round of retest is done and the health officials will carry out another round before releasing them.

 

2:35:The Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said those Bhutanese abroad have to be in touch with the respective Royal Bhutan embassies in the country of residence.

 

2:31: Way forward: If there is any positive cases the response would be implemented accordingly. Status of the patient: still the same.

 

2:29: PM said that WHO declaring COVID-19 as pandemic doesn’t mean it needs any change in response or management efforts that Bhutan is taking. “There’s no need to panic as we have already identified measures and are implementing them,” PM said.

 

2:23- The Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said no new positive cases found in the country so far. Retest of samples from first contacts were all negative and status remains same.

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