Nima | Gelephu

Over two weeks since Gelephu last detected a Covid-19 positive case from a frontline worker, the task force is readying to lift the lockdown phase-wise from Saturday.

The dzongkhag Covid-19 task force has readied the proposal for the relaxation of the lockdown and submitted the plan to the southern region Covid-19 taskforce.

Sarpang dzongdag, Karma Galay, said that the task force had accepted the proposed unlocking plan. “Medically and technically, we qualify for unlocking from September 10. But, we want to discuss whether we are ready to unlock, hear it from the technical advisory group (TAG),” he said.

He added that the lifting of lockdown could differ from other dzongkhags because the town shares a long porous border with the Indian state of Assam where the Covid-19 case is on the rise.

The shops for essential items, restaurants with delivery service, and bars would be allowed to open but must adhere to specific timing.

Task force officials and the technical advisory group said people should take safety protocols seriously as part of new normal.

“This would decide whether we would have to face another lockdown…We seek high cooperation from the people,” said Karma Galay.


TAG recommends safety measures at containment centres

The TAG had been studying the risk of community transmission and the source of infection since Gelephu reported a positive case from a frontline worker last month.

Chief programme officer with the communicable diseases division, Rinxin Jamtsho, said the positive case detected in a frontline worker did not cause local transmission. “There have not been positive cases for almost 14 days and all primary contacts tested negative.”

He, however, highlighted the need to strictly follow safety measures and necessary precautions while loading and unloading consignments at the point of entry.

Inspection of the vehicles and monitoring is the most important task as the town plans to lift the lockdown.

The official said the recommended time to start lifting lockdown was after two weeks of detecting the positive case. If exposed to the infection, about 10 to 12 percent starts to show symptoms after 14 days and some after 21 days.

TAG will be doing another round of inspection, mostly in the places where frontline workers are stationed today. The team earlier observed the need to strengthen safety measures in the various workplaces of the frontline workers.

Lack of containment centres for the frontline workers at critical areas, emergency health focal person among the frontline workers in the field, and handwashing stations, among others, were some of the gaps the team found in the past two weeks.

The team inspected over 19 different workplaces during the lockdown.

Rinxin Jamtsho said some grocery shops were opened but monitoring was not so effective initially. “Now it’s improved,” he said.

To ensure efficient surveillance along the border and to reduce the incidents of illegal activities, the official also recommended the need to involve communities along the border.

It’s been over 30 days since Gelephu went under complete lockdown.