Nima Wangdi 

The new variant of concern, Omicron, might reach Bhutan, but will not be among us, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said at meet the press session yesterday in Lhengye Dhensa, Thimphu.

Lyoenchhen said that whatever variant, it can’t affect Bhutanese people as long as the incubation period does not change. “It can be detected in the quarantine, as we follow the quarantine norms strictly.”

“Our protection by vaccination is very high, but the immunity that we have achieved through normal infection is very low. So we don’t know how it would turn out to be,” lyonchhen said.

Lyonchhen also said that children were unvaccinated. “Brazil is suffering from children death. Japan,Korea, and Europe are in trouble today.”

On the other hand, Lyonchhen said that Thailand had stopped test and visit system for the tourists.

He said that some countries are going strict with protocols, while others are lifting restrictions. “In our case, we will follow our normal standard of protocols and see how the global trend evolves.”

Health Minster Dechen Wangmo, said, “We don’t know much about the Omicron yet. But given the available data from the experienced countries, it is highly transmissible, but mortality is fairly low.”

Citing an example, Lyonpo said that during the previous outbreaks in the country, if a  member in a family tested positive, rest of the family members did not test positive. “With Omicron, we are fairly confident that this will not be the case.”

She said that the vaccines still work against the Omicron and testing methods can detect it. “The incubation period is also shorter compared with the previous variants.”

Lyonpo said that the country had the capacity to conduct gene sequencing of the virus in the country.

“We have done gene sequencing of the samples from the positive cases; all are still delta. We are also running another batch of samples and the result will be out in a week time,” she said.

That’s why, she said,   non-pharmaceutical interventions like washing hands, wearing masks and avoiding crowds, were being encouraged.

“Our vaccination coverage is very good. Eligible population above 12 years is 90 plus. This will give us a fairly good protection,” Lyonpo said.