Nima Wangdi

Given the rising number of Covid-19 positive cases in the country, the national lockdown may not be relaxed any soon.

The health ministry is carrying out health surveillance and tests for all the vulnerable people.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said the government imposed nationwide lockdown, as it was the best intervention to break the virus spreading chain.

“We now have to assess risks in all the places and then relax lockdown phase-wise,” she said. “For example, we have already relaxed lockdown in villages and the next phase will come dzongkhag wise depending on the risk findings,” she said.

She said the lockdown couldn’t be relaxed in any dzongkhag where the primary contacts of the index case in Phuentsholing tested negative. This is because one-time testing negative doesn’t mean that one can be free from virus.

“Lockdown has helped us in containing the virus as people confined to their own places. It could have been spread to all 20 dzongkhags if people were left to travel as usual,” she said. “For instance, about 1,000 people travel between Thimphu and Phuentsholing every day and lockdown could prevent this.”

Lyonpo said that lockdown minimised people’s movement which help tracing and testing of all the contacts of the index case. It also gave time for the ministry to plan and implement the measures accordingly.

Lyonpo said: “We must be careful before deciding to lift the lockdown. Our lockdown has been an example to many countries.”

She said that if lockdown protocols were followed strictly at the household levels, focusing on the family in which a member has tested positive would be easy.

Lyonpo emphasised that if the situation worsen in some places, lockdown in those places could be more stringent.