Younten Tshedup 

The national referral hospital (JDWNRH), for now, is safe, assured Sowai Lyonpo (health minister) Dechen Wangmo last night.

The minister confirmed the status of JDWNRH after rumors of a support staff with the hospital testing positive for Covid-19 went viral.

Speaking to Kuensel last night, Lyonpo said that a 33-year-old woman, a support staff with the national referral hospital, tested positive for the virus on December 26, when she was not on duty.

She said that the woman had tested positive from the community in Changzamtog, Thimphu. “On December 22, when we changed the staff shift, the woman was not among the group,” Lyonpo said. “JDWNRH for now is safe. Every unit at the hospital works in containment mode, and are tested before the new batch replaces the old.”

Of the total 169 positive cases in Thimphu, 81 of them are at the JDWNRH’s Covid-19 isolation ward. The rest who are asymptomatic are kept at the isolation facility (a hotel).

In the last 24 hours, 27 new local cases were detected from Thimphu and Paro, taking the overall tally of Covid-19 positive cases as of yesterday to 625.

Of the 27 new cases, 20 were detected in Thimphu from the community including nine from upper Dechencholing, four from upper Changzamtog, two from Depsi and one each from Kabisa, Yangphel colony, Simtokha, and Nyezergang clusters. One was detected from a flu clinic.

Seven were detected in Paro from the Shaba and Wochu areas. They were all contacts of the cases detected earlier in Paro.

With the widespread outbreak in the two dzongkhags, Lyonpo said that the ministry was currently assessing the risk in these areas. “Until we have completely assessed and understood the risks, we request the public to kindly adhere to the lockdown protocol and remain in their own zones, while coming out.”

Since the detection of the index case on December 20, a total of 173 local cases have been detected so far. More than 3,000 close contacts of the positive cases have also been traced.   

Also, over 17,000 Covid-19 tests have been conducted across the country of which 12,000 plus tests were conducted at the 54 flu clinics.

Lyonpo yesterday also announced the activation of the pick-and-drop facility for those requiring refills for their medication.

The ministry has identified one shop in each zone as an access point to pick and drop medicine refills. Patients who are on long-term medication for chronic diseases and who require medicine refill can drop their prescription with their contact details at the identified shops.

Health staff would collect the prescription, collect the medicine from the pharmacy and drop it back at the same shop. The turnaround time is 24 hours, meaning, if the prescription is dropped today, the refill can be collected the next day.

Lyonpo urged everyone to sincerely practice the public health measures while going out of their homes. Wearing face mask outside is mandatory.