Tashi Dema

With 33 countries having reported of confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) as of yesterday, the health ministry cautioned  Bhutanese to avoid unnecessarily travel to affected countries until the outbreak is contained.

A travel advisory, the ministry sent, stated that people who have to travel should also postpone it. “Travellers entering Bhutan with travel history to affected countries may be quarantined for 14 days on arrival in the country.”

Bhutan reported of 23 suspected cases but all tested negative.

The health ministry also stated that all the 19 samples sent to AFRIMS, Bangkok, to reconfirm COVID-19 tested negative.

It stated that Bhutan’s staging of COVID-19 outbreak is in level 2.

A press release from the ministry stated that the staging has been prepared using various international references and the staging has four levels (ranging from Level 1 (low risk) to Level 4 (high risk).

Meanwhile, health ministry stated that the national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19 was reviewed and updated to the third edition.

Two infrared thermal scanners procured by the World Health Organisation are set up at Paro International Airport and the Phuntsholing point of entry (POE).

Desuups, police and immigration officials fully engaged in screening of public at the ground crossings.

More than 28 doctors and 400 health care workers were trained in 12 PoE hospitals (which includes Samrang BHU). Three ICU beds in JDWNRH, two ICU beds in Gelephu Regional Referral Hospital and quarantine places are also identified.

The health emergency management committee (HEMC) approved the proposal to build an additional structure for COVID-19, which will be built adjacent to the emergency ward for the stabilisation of ambulatory patient before laboratory confirmation.

Issues related to management of close contacts for quarantining when a suspected case is being investigated at Paro Airport has been put in place in collaboration with both the airlines.

While no test kits are available globally to conduct rapid tests for COVID-19 until now, real time PCR are done to confirm the infection.

The global COVID-19 confirmed cases as of yesterday was 80,239 with C 77,780 cases in China alone. China reported of 2,666 deaths from the disease, whereas 34 deaths are in other countries.

Of the six countries with direct flight links with Bhutan, Bangladesh did not have any reported cases as of yesterday, India reported of three cases with all recovered. Nepal reported one case and the patient recovered. Singapore reported of 90 cases of which 53 recovered and Sri Lanka reported of one case. Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and Italy have been put on the high alert list.

Health ministry’s press release also stated that the joint WHO and China mission report pointed out that most common methods of transmission are through respiratory droplets and contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus. “However, some evidence has indicated that aerosol transmission in a relatively small and closed environment and fecal–oral route could be possible but the epidemiological significance and value of the fecal-oral route and the aerosol transmission need to be further confirmed.”

The average time from symptom onset to recovery is two weeks for mild cases and three to six weeks for severe patients.