Mass screening for yellow zones in Paro begins today

Younten Tshedup  

Offices, institutions and schools in Thimphu would not open until the end of the month, as the second round of mass testing could take at least five days — January 25 to 29, Kuensel learnt.

Thirty-five days after locking the capital city down, life is yet to return to ‘normal’ under the regular Covid-19 norms, in Thimphu and some parts of Paro. For this to happen, the national Covid-19 taskforce has to declare these areas as ‘green’ zones first.

While the rest of the dzongkhags, including a few gewogs in Thimphu and Paro have been declared green zones, areas under Thimphu Thromde and some gewogs in Paro, including the thromde have been marked yellow since January 17.

The yellow phase allows certain relaxations for residents to move outside without the movement card. However, it doesn’t allow people to enter other megazones. Once an area is declared green, life can return to normal (within the Covid-19 norms) as it was before the lockdown.

The health ministry has said that based on the epidemiological situation and risk assessment, the transition from yellow to green phase would be initiated only after completing seven days from the day of transition (red to yellow).

This, however, is contingent upon the random testing the ministry would be carrying out at the end of the seventh day.

The North mega zone, which observed the first relaxations on January 17, 28 days after the capital city was locked down, would begin the random testing on January 24 (seven days after becoming yellow).

The North mega zone includes Dechencholing, Taba, Jungshina, Langjophaka, Hejo, Pamtsho, Samtenling, Begana, Changtagang, and Kabesa areas.

According to sources, the random testing would include one person from each structure unit (building or house).

Similarly, randomise testing for the South mega zone would begin on January 25, as it was identified as a yellow zone on January 18. The south mega zone includes Tshalumarphey, Tshalu Barp, Semtokha, Babesa, Serbithang, Debsi, Gangchey-Nyezergang, and RTC areas.

The central 1 (C-1) and central 2 (C-2) zones, which were identified as yellow on January 19, will begin the random testing on January 26.

The C-1 zone covers Zilukha, Motithang, Changangkha, Norzin Wog, Norzin Tag, and Yangchenphu areas, while the C-2 includes Changzamtog, Changbangdu, and Lungtenphu superzones.

It was learnt that the random testing would take at least five days in the capital, which would run until January 28-29. Until the test results are out which would in turn decide the status of the areas, current restriction will remain.

Similarly, yellow areas in Paro will also be subjected to randomised testing before they can enter the green phase. The two-day mass testing in the yellow zones in Paro will begin today. It was decided that Naja, Dogar, Doteng and Tsento gewogs in Paro would enter the green zone when the first relaxation began on January 17.

The remaining six gewogs and Paro Throm were marked yellow on the same day.

However, Shaba-Bara under Shaba gewog, Woochu below Luni gewog office and Khangkhu school premises under Wangchang gewog continued to be under strict surveillance for the next seven days, then.

Meanwhile, the earlier understanding was that for places like Thimphu and Paro to unlock, the two places needed to maintain zero positive cases from the community for 14 straight days.

However, Sowai Lyonpo (health minister) Dechen Wangmo earlier said the confidence to unlock Thimphu and Paro comes from the little or no cases that were being detected from the communities of late.

To further establish that there were no active transmission of Covid-19 in the communities in Thimphu and Paro, the health minister started the mass screening programme. Following the mass screening, areas and megazones were declared yellow zones.