HM walked across villages along the border meeting people and reminding them of the dangers of community transmission

His Majesty The King is back in Thimphu after a two-week Royal Tour of the south to review and reinforce security measures in place, with active Covid-19 cases on the rise in the neighbourhood. His Majesty visited the border areas to personally talk to the people about the growing threat of community transmissions.

While the borders have been closed since March 23, several instances of people clandestinely crossing the border and avoiding quarantine have shown that the border areas are particularly vulnerable to an outbreak,   and the community needs to be vigilant and prepared.

Armed forces personnel, De-Suups, forestry officials, and officials from customs, immigration, and land commission, together with retired armed forces personnel and community volunteers have been patrolling the long and porous borders since the closure.

From about 200 De-Suups patrolling the border in Samtse a month ago, the number has now been increased to over 400. Several CCTV cameras have been installed at all strategic locations to assist the volunteers. New outposts have also been setup in an effort to increase vigilance.

In Samtse, His Majesty met with people living in villages near the border in Ugyentse, Yoeseltse, Sang-Ngag-Chhoeling and Tashichhoeling gewogs. His Majesty also visited shops in Samtse town to see how the pandemic has affected local businesses.

His Majesty thanked the local leaders of Samtse and people living along the border for their continuous efforts in ensuring Bhutanese do not come in contact with the virus. His Majesty reiterated to the local leaders that going forward, settlements along the border should be extra cautious and continue their good efforts.

In Phuentsholing, where the temperatures have soared to over 40 degrees Celsius this past week, His Majesty walked across six villages along the border in Sampheling gewog, meeting people and reminding them of the dangers if the virus spreads in the community. While going from village to village, His Majesty also visited all the outposts along the way and met with volunteers on patrol duty.

His Majesty visited high-risk areas close to the Phuentsholing border and Jharna, between Pasakha and Phuentsholing. His Majesty also granted Audiences to gups and mangmis of 11 gewogs of Chhukha, and frontline workers in Phuentsholing. Thanking them for their services at a time when they were most needed, His Majesty Commanded them to continue their efforts with increased vigour.

The health ministry conducted over 16,000 random rapid diagnostics tests (RDT) to rule out any possible community transmission of Covid-19. The samples included those of frontline workers, people living and working near the border, truck and taxi drivers, out-patients in hospitals, students and staff of schools and institutions and factory workers. All RDT results have come out negative.

Meanwhile, in the past month, His Majesty granted Audiences to De-Suups of the 41st batch accelerated training programme at Damthang, Jigmeling, Pelrithang, Tashigatshel, Tashichhoeling, Tendruk, Tencholing, Shaba, and Dechencholing. With the completion of the current batch, the total number of De-Suups will reach 14,844. Volunteers from the three batches of accelerated training programme have been instrumental in providing relief to those who have been on patrol duty at the borders since March.

His Majesty was accompanied by the Prime Minister, Chief Operations Officer of the RBA, and Chief of RBP during the tour.