Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Residents of Nganglam drungkhag in Pemagatshel alleged negligence by the task force as the reason for the increasing Covid-19 positive cases in the drungkhag.

They also claimed the virus would not have spread in the community if the taskforce imposed a 72-hour blackout when the 18-year-old woman travelling from Nganglam to Gelephu tested positive in Panbang on January 18.

A resident, who chose anonymity, said the task force officials initially told him to deliver essential supplies, so he ordered a truckload of vegetables. “Officials later told me that I cannot deliver the essentials because my shop is in a red building.”

He said that he then sold his vegetables to a friend. “Authorities declared the building as a red zone only four or five days after the owner tested positive. By then the virus would have spread in the community.”

He claimed that when he questioned the officials, he was told they forgot to declare the building as red and cordon it off.

Another resident said the virus would not have spread in the community if the task force and medical team had conducted the mass testing since the first day of the lockdown. “The lockdown has been going on for more than two weeks and there are still Covid-19 positive cases from the community. What could be the reason for the rising community cases?”

He said people were suspected of having come into contact with the positive cases between January 27 and 28, as many people came to Nganglam for Losar shopping.

A civil servant said one of the frontline workers at the integrated checkpoint (ICP) tested positive around 6:30am recently but was taken to isolation around 4:30pm, adding that his friend decided to do his duty at the ICP, as he was not informed.

“But an officer kept the patient’s friend in a separate room and informed the task force immediately. The system has to improve. This could compromise any security measures put in place,” he said.

The task force officials were not available for comment.

Meanwhile, the lockdown in the drungkhag was extended for a week until February 22 from 7am yesterday.

According to a notification the drungkhag issued on February 15, the detection of increasing Covid-19 positive cases from the three gewogs in the drungkhag besides Nganglam town and adjoining areas since the announcement of the lockdown on February 2 revealed that the chain of transmission has not been broken.

Sources said that the mass testing in the drungkhag started from Dechhenling gewog yesterday.

More than 300 Covid-19 positive cases have been reported in Nganglam and about 100 individuals have recovered so far since the first detection of the Covid-19 positive case from the containment area on January 20.