Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

Another foreign worker, an employee of Bhutan Concast Private Limited (BCPL) in Pasakha industrial estate, was arrested on December 1 for illegally entering Bhutan.

This takes the total number of arrested foreign workers of BCPL for breaking the Covid-19 protocols to six.

Five workers of the company were arrested on November 29 and November 28 at the Allay Land Customs Station (ALCS).

All the workers tested negative for Covid-19 but are currently undergoing 21 days’ quarantine.

Sources said the worker arrested on December 1 was already working with the company.

The 32-year-old man from Bihar had entered Pasakha through ALCS on October 8, allegedly hiding inside a trailer truck to enter the country.

It was learnt that he worked with BCPL and crossed the border and entered again. He also didn’t have Covid-19 card.

Although Kuensel couldn’t confirm the figure, it has awas learnt that about 10 to 13 foreign workers who were working with BCPL didn’t have the Covid-19 card.

Bhutan Concast is a foreign direct investment (FDI) company in Pasakha. The factory has currently been placed under complete lockdown as a preventive measure.

Meanwhile, the illegal entries make Phuentsholing high risk for Covid-19 community transmission. Local residents are questioning what could have happened if these foreign workers tested positive.

A Phuentsholing resident, Karma Tshering Dorji, said all vehicles coming into the country should be thoroughly checked.

“Due to labour shortage, such incidents are likely to occur again,” he said, adding that authorities should monitor vehicle strictly.

A concerned resident said that if such incidences occurred, the place of the incident must be put under lockdown irrespective of Covid-19 test results.

Another resident said that there are also risk at the Toorsa embankment near the international border.

“The river has already become very small now and could be easily crossed making it easier for miscreants to enter Phuentsholing from the upstream areas,” he said.

He said even if people from across the border come into the Bhutanese side from Toorsa and return, it would still be risky to be around that place considering the airborne nature of the virus.

“We cannot go on sanitising the river banks,” he said. “And chasing them or detaining them would be equally challenging.”

Labour shortage

Considering the labour shortage in the country, the government allowed the needy and able construction companies to import skilled workers on their own expenses.

The first batch of foreign workers entered on October 1 this year. As of December 3, a total of 899 foreign workers have entered Phuentsholing.

Of the total, including yesterday’s three positive cases, 47 of them have tested positive for Covid-19.

This means that 11.2 percent of the total 418 Covid-19 positive cases in the country are foreign workers who entered Phuentsholing from October 1 to December 4.

Considering the current rate, the risk also lies with Phuentsholing’s capacity to handle Covid-19 positive cases. As of yesterday, Phuentsholing RIGSS hospital has seen 233 positive cases. Of the total, 57 positive cases were from Dantak and 34 from Imtrat.