Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The results from the mass screening in Samtse town and Tashichholing, which concluded yesterday, could decide the lockdown relaxation in the dzongkhag. The mass screening started on May 23.

As of yesterday, 1,902 samples were taken from Tashichholing and 1,544 samples from Samtse town.

On the first day of the mass screening health officials collected 2,800 samples from Samtse town and Tashichholing.

Samtse Dzongdag Pasang Dorji, who is also the incident commander of the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force, said the lockdown relaxation would depend on the results from the mass screening.

“Everything has been good so far. So we are hoping we’ll have a good outcome from the mass screening,” he said.

Samtse was still waiting for the results of the samples taken on May 23. It was expected to be out by 10pm yesterday. The samples were sent to Thimphu.

He also said the samples collected yesterday will be transhipped today morning. The results are expected to be out by evening.

Samtse went into a complete lockdown on May 12 after a couple in Tashichholing tested positive for Covid-19. The infection was from a busy business centre (restaurant) in Tashichholing.

The mass screening is also the second one for Tashichholing. The first was held on May 13 following the lockdown. Over 850 people were tested then.

Starting from May 16, the zoning system was initiated in Samtse and Gomtu towns. People were allowed to walk within their respective zones using their movement cards. However, starting from Gathiya bridge (Sangachholing gewog) until Norgaygang gewog, the lockdown had continued.

Tendu Gup Nima Dukpa, who is also the chairman of the dzongkhag tshogdu, said, “We don’t have any serious issues. People are cooperating and they are also well prepared as instructed.”

Dorokha Drungkhag is also under lockdown. However, movement within the drungkhag is free. Dophuchen, Denchukha and Dumtey gewogs are under the drungkhag.

Dorokha drungpa Karma Jurmi said, “We’ve restricted the movement of people and vehicles to Samtse and other places except for the transportation of essential food items.”

“With the setting up of a check post at Halhalay we could monitor the movements well,” he said.

Drungpa Karma Jurmi also said people are “very much cooperative” and have been following the lockdown protocols.

He said that contrary to the first lockdown, residents have stocked essential food items that would last a few months. 

“There was no panic buying when the lockdown was announced.”

The drungpa said people have not breached the lockdown and containment protocols.

Construction works are ongoing in self-contained mode. Vulnerable groups such as frontline workers, task force members and shopkeepers are tested two times a month.

A Dorokha resident said people were more cautious than ever. 

“Task force briefed us recently.”

Although Dorokha was safe until now, once the lockdown in Phuentsholing is lifted and inter-dzongkhag movement allowed, he said the risks will be greater as most businessmen from Dorokha travel to Phuentsholing for shopping.