Nima  | Gelephu

Gelephu Central Regional Referral Hospital (CRRH) started to test both patients and attendants for Covid-19 since Gelephu detected positive case from a frontline worker in August.

This is to ensure health officials are not exposed to the infection while at work.

The surveillance team from CRRH also tested over 800 frontline staff, including health workers, De-Suups, police, and the Royal Bhutan Army soldiers.

The health officials come in contact with the people on daily basis, even during lockdown, at the hospital. The health officials providing mobile clinic services come in contact with the community daily.

Medical superintendent of CRRH, Dorji Tshering, said the safety measures were in place as per the directive provided by the ministry of health.

Health officials are separated into high and low risk groups and interaction among them is not entertained so that they are not exposed to the infection while at work.

“We are considering the inpatient area as a completely safe zone. All patients, staff, and attendants deployed inside tested negative for Covid-19,” said Dorji Tshering. “We want to maintain that.”

Rinxin Jamtsho, chief programme officer, with the communicable disease division who is also a member of the technical advisory group (TAG), said that frontline workers were vulnerable to infection with exports and import trades going on.

“The cases in India are on the rise and there is a need to strengthen safety measures at the workplace of the frontline staff,” he said. “During our preliminary assessment, the use of safety gear was not so appreciable.”

He added that the safety measures at the containment centres, workplace of the essential services providers, or frontline workers should be strengthened. “The risk of importing disease is high if we are complacent.”

Gelephu would be lifting lockdown phase-wise from today after remaining under complete lockdown for over 30 days.

The positive cases detected from the town were from a frontline worker and another was placed under facility quarantine.

Officials from the technical advisory group and a surveillance team from CRRH said that both cases detected outside the facility quarantine had not caused community transmission.

Health minister, Dechen Wangmo, yesterday highlighted the need to follow the safety protocols strictly and to practice social distancing during a press briefing in Thimphu.

Strict compliance to safety protocols by the frontline worker who tested positive last month in Gelephu did not infected anyone who came in contact with the index case.

More than 700 frontline workers who tested for Covid-19 this week came negative. The test result of the 117 police officials is expected today.