Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Two weeks after the lockdown began in Phuentsholing, lifting it looks quite promising today considering the absence of a positive case from the community in the past one week.

The lockdown could be lifted only after 14 days without a community transmission.

However, the three-day mass screening in Phuentsholing, which starts today, will determine if the lockdown would end as expected.

The mass testing is to rule out any residual Covid-19 cases in the community and lift the lockdown early. It will conclude on May 2.

The health ministry has already shared the way forward for the mass screening in public domains.

The timing of the screening is based on the maximum incubation period (14 days) after the outbreak.

As per the plan, there are nine zones in Phuentsholing for containment.

Today, one person from each household in Amochu-Chamkuna, Core 1 and Core 2 zones will sit for the test. The most mobile and active member of the family, preferably unvaccinated if any, will be tested.

Individuals infected by Covid-19 and who had recovered will not be tested. Children below five and those who have been tested in the last five days will also not be tested.

Core 2, Core 3 and Dhamdara-Kabreytar zones will be screened on May 1. On the last day, residents in Rinchending, Ahalay-Pekarzhing and Pasakha will be screened.

On April 16, a 10-year-old schoolboy tested positive for Covid-19. As the case was from the community, the government soon announced the third lockdown in Phuentsholing and other southern dzongkhags. While lockdowns in other places were lifted soon but more positive cases emerged in Phuentsholing. Of the total positive cases in Phuentsholing, 32 are from the community.

Meanwhile, there is much to do post lockdown.

Prior to the lockdown, many people had become complacent and disregarded wearing masks, washing hands and were moving in crowds.

Many believe the complacency among the people crept in due to the Covid-19 vaccination, which made them feel they had become immune. It was also because of the fatigue from measures in place, many say.

A resident, Penjor said after the lockdown, all the previous protocols should be enforced. “Stricter protocols for quarantine facilities should be put in place,” he said.

He said it has been observed that there have been lapses from quarantine facilities in Thimphu and Samdrupjongkhar.

Penjor said he has seen some hotels under strict quarantine had back doors from where people enter discreetly.

“I have seen it. And delivery of goods to such facilities should have designated people to minimise the risks by providing them proper gear,” he said.