Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Providing quarantine facility services to those moving out of Phuentsholing to other parts of the country during this pandemic has cost the government more than Nu 227 million (M).

These expenses were incurred, according to a Southern Covid-19 task force (SC19TF) official, for those who stayed in quarantine facilities in Phuentsholing before travelling to low-risk areas, isolation, de-isolation, primary contacts, returnees, emergencies and stranded people.

Forty-two hotels have been providing quarantine services in Phuentsholing. A building in Khareyphu has also been included as a quarantine centre. A 400-bed temporary quarantine facility upstream from Amochhu, which catered to expatriate workers, now caters to Covid-19 patients.

An official from the SC19TF said: “The total expenditure does not include the expenditure for temporary quarantine facilities and the self-funded clients.”

As per official records, a total of 4,756 people availed themselves of the quarantine services in Phuentsholing last year, while 14,027 people who travelled to other dzongkhags were stationed in quarantine facilities in other dzongkhags.

With the rapid transmission and increase of Omicron cases this year, a total of 2,166 people have availed the quarantine services in Phuentsholing as of today, which includes mostly Covid-19 patients. This has been attributed to the shortage of quarantine facilities in Phuentsholing.

While announcing the 10-day lockdown recently, the SC19TF underscored that they were facing “an acute shortage of isolation and quarantine facilities with an increasing number of positive cases.”   

Due to this, primary contacts were also home-quarantined.

A SC19TF member said there were about 150 primary contacts who were home-quarantined as of January 6.

“During the strict lockdown, it is convenient for people and management to keep them in home quarantine,” he said.

“Police are regularly monitoring their places. Also, they are called every alternate day one by one to provide health advice.”

With the home-quarantine for primary contacts system initiated, officials are now able to make some quarantine spaces. Around 156 beds were made available on February 7.

Meanwhile, a couple, who were taken to Amochu quarantine facility after they were identified as primary contact, are in some state of confusion. The couple is continuing quarantine after they tested positive on the 10th day, a test done before they were let go.

They had to continue the quarantine.

“But our two sons tested negative both times. They are also with us,” the husband said.

Today is the fourth day of the 10-day complete lockdown in Phuentsholing, which started on February 6. Phuentsholing reported 66 new positive cases yesterday.

Three were from the community, 32 from the containment centres, and 28 from facility quarantine. Three close contacts who were kept in home quarantine also tested positive.