Phub Dem | Haa

The dzongkhag administration of Haa has prepared Prevention, Preparedness, Management and Recovery Measures (PPMRM) handbook to effectively prevent, contain, manage and recover Covid-19 cases.

Measures such as restriction of contact sports, reduction of travel, and promotion of social distancing have already been put in place.

In case the country enters an orange situation—with local transmission in the country but not in Haa—the dzongkhag will establish screen points at three entry points.

The points are Paro for Haa Chelela pass, drungkhag entry point for Samtse-Haa, and Haa gate for Chudzom-Haa. The dzongkhag administration will mobilise health professionals from a pool of Health Assistants from primary health centres and alert three retired health officials in Haa.

Similarly, the handbook has a comprehensive preparedness plan for situation red and red plus.

Current scenario

The dzongkhag administration has formed a logistic team to monitor the price of goods. The Food Corporation of Bhutan has stockpiled essentials that would last for three months.

Hospital management, logistic and transportation management, and security management contingency plans have been developed.

As per the preparedness plan, the dzongkhag is accessible by multiple routes (Paro, Chuzom, and Samtse) which makes the district vulnerable from outsiders. Haa also faces risks from illegal traders operating at night through the border passes and the presence of yak herders on both sides of the border poses a risk of cross-border infection.

Haa has 565 residents above the age of 70 years. In case of Covid-19 positive cases in Haa, infrastructural limitation would be the biggest challenge.

However, due to its geographical location, these challenges, according to dzongdag could be resolved.

Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said that there was significant potential in the agriculture and livestock sectors. He said that youth and parents now understood that jobs in urban centres are dependent on global factors.

Emphasising food self-sufficiency, every household is encouraged to have a kitchen garden. Technical support and quality seeds are being provided to youth interested in taking up farming. There are also plans to support livestock sectors through packaging, increasing shelves life of diary product, and production.

Dzongdag said that the dzongkhag administration was planning to establish a labour contract firm to supply the required workforce to construction and manufacturing companies.

The handbook contains contact details of the dzongkhag task force for Covid-19, details of people above 60 years in each gewog, retired and private health officials, volunteers, and business groups.

Haa has identified five hotels to be used as quarantine facilities and two isolation facilities. Three schools are being considered for back-up quarantine facilities.