Eight days after the lockdown, positive cases in Thimphu continues to rise

Younten Tshedup   

Six days after the community outbreak of Covid-19 in the capital city was confirmed, an average of 18 positive cases are detected daily in the country.

The confirmation of community transmission of Covid-19 came after five individuals tested positive from flu clinics in Thimphu on December 22. None of the cases had any link with the index case detected on December 20 or any of her close contacts.

As of last night, 17 people had tested positive from the flu clinics including the index case. Sixteen of them were detected from flu clinics in Thimphu and from Bumthang on December 22. The Bumthang case had a travel history from Thimphu.

The community transmission of Covid-19 was further established after 51 people tested positive during the four-day mass surveillance conducted in Thimphu.

The surveillance ended yesterday. Over 8,400 people in the capital city were randomly selected and tested for Covid-19.

Similar mass surveillance is also being planned in Paro, as 36 of the 146 cases detected so far since December 20 were from Paro.

Sowai Lyonpo (health minister) Dechen Wangmo on Saturday said that given the close proximity and high level of interaction among people of the two dzongkhags, Thimphu and Paro shared the same epidemiological risks from the pandemic.

Lyonpo said that besides the two dzongkhags, positive cases were also detected in six other dzongkhags. However, she said that the risk of local transmission in the other dzongkhags was “highly unlikely” as the cases were contacts of those who tested positive in either Thimphu or Paro. “So far, there are no cases from the community in these dzongkhags.”

Lyonpo said that to rule out and prevent any possible outbreaks in other dzongkhags, people with flu-like symptoms must visit the flu clinics. “If you have any flu-like symptoms, do not go to hospitals or BHUs but please visit the flu clinics.”

She added that the chances of transmission of the disease increase after people develop symptoms because viral shedding would have started by then.

Although around 1,700 Covid-19 tests were conducted daily at the flu clinics outside Thimphu and Paro, the minister said that there were still some dzongkhags where the turnout was negligible.  “Either there are no flu cases at all or people with symptoms are assuming it as seasonal flu. Despite the symptoms, assuming it as normal flu is dangerous as you could spread the virus to others.”