Nima Wangdi  

With the Covid-19 pandemic cases reducing, many say that there is no need for the five-day mandatory quarantine for those entering the country.

They said that the quarantine has become a burden for both government and the individuals.

A corporate employee, who recently returned from a week-long trip to India, said that the five-day quarantine is not needed. He said his expenses of Nu 1,800 a night and Nu 3,000 for two tests were borne by his office and the government. Yet he still felt it was unnecessary given the situation.

“If not for the Monkey Pox and some other Covid-19 variants that are drawing close to the country, quarantine is not required,” he said. The quarantine for those travelling within the country was discontinued a few months ago.

The government pays the quarantine bills and test charges for those who are returning from medical treatment, and regular studies; those who travel for biometrics and the International English Language Testing System tests. People travelling for personal work have to pay for quarantine and the tests.

People arriving in Bhutan can choose either home quarantine or facility quarantine. Those who have unvaccinated family members at home go for facility quarantine while others choose home quarantine. Some also choose home quarantine since they can’t afford it or don’t want to spend on hotels.

Sonam Yangden, 30, who recently returned from Europe opted for home quarantine at her sister’s place in Thimphu. “Officials come for tests when we call them but no one comes to monitor me at home.”

She said that if those who are supposed to be quarantined at home are roaming around, the whole purpose of having the protocol in place is defeated.

She said that the individuals should responsibly complete the home quarantine period with due diligence. “However, with the Covid-19 fading from memory, many don’t follow quarantine protocols seriously.”

There are talks going around about the government planning to do away with the five-day quarantine for the arrivals soon.

A medical doctor said that from the medical point of view the quarantine is unnecessary at this time.

National Covid-19 taskforce’s Chairperson, Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that they are deliberating on the matter but there is no definite time as to when to do it. “We are looking at the data at the moment.”