Nima Wangdi 

As the number of Covid-19 rises each day across the country, more than 300 vulnerable people including their attendants have been moved to safety in the reverse isolation facilities (RIF) across the country.

According to the Head of the Kidu medical team, Dr Phurb Dorji this includes 178 sick people, 64 patient attendants and 57 others who don’t have comorbidities but have some other circumstances.

He said that Thimphu has the most people availing of the facility followed by Bumthang. “Thimphu could not accommodate all of them who are availing the facility. They are now extended to Paro as well.”

He said each dzongkhag has two reverse isolation facilities. “Since we do not have the government structures ready for this, we are using the hotels in the dzongkhags. Where there is no hotel, we are using government guesthouses and gewog office spaces.”

He said, depending on the size of the population, some dzongkhags even have three to four facilities. There are some 1,650 beds altogether according to Dr Phurb Dorji. He said some 57,000 have registered for the facility so far.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that all services, if required, starting from feeding to cleaning body fluids and wastes will be provided.

But if family members still want they can stay with their elderly relatives in the facility. The de-suups plus serving there are trained in first aid. “De-suups will cook, serve and clean.”

“In some countries, such services are provided but for business. Under the His Majesty The King’s Kidu, it is being provided free of cost here,” Lyonchhen said.

Dr Phurb Dorji said the duration of their stay in the facilities will depend on the Covid-19 situation in the communities. “If the outbreak persists, people will have to stay longer.”

They also said that availing of the reverse isolation facility is ‘purely voluntary’. “However, relatives cannot meet them or drop food at the facility,” Dr Phurb Dorji said.

Lyonchhen said entering and exiting facilities intermittently will not be accepted. “Those who don’t want to join facilities but wish to avail other services at home will also be provided.”

Reverse isolation

Lyonchhen said, in the past, with the aim to maintain zero Covid-19 in the community, those who tested positive and primary contacts were isolated. “Now the concept of Zero Covid in the community having changed, through the His Majesty The King’s Kidu, we are isolating the vulnerable population.”

The vulnerable population includes those with comorbidities, disabilities, 65 years and above and those unvaccinated.