Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Mass testing will help decide whether to further relax, restrict, or impose lockdown in Mega Zone 2 in Phuentsholing, according to the Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC-19TF).

However, the mass screening, including eventual relaxation, restriction, and lockdown will be decided after 72-hours (black out phase) lockdown and contact tracing.

Just five days after more relaxations were announced in Phuentsholing, the Megazone-2 went into a 72-hours lockdown yesterday.

The decision came after six Covid-19 positive cases were detected from the community.

The cases were discovered after two individuals from the heart of the town tested positive at the flu-clinic.

After the two were found positive, the entire building was screened. Four more tested positive. The six of them are from two families in the building.

Kuensel also learnt that one of the six positive cases had not been tested during the last mass screening, which commenced on June 10 and concluded on June 17. However, other family members had all tested and came out negative during the screening.

Considering Mega Zone 2 was mass screened at the last among the three mega zones, and the incubation period (of three to five days), they could have been exposed to the virus between June 18 to June 19.

Mega Zone 2 covers areas such as Core 1, Core 3, Core 4, and Rinchending Zone.

As per records shared by the SC-19TF, as of yesterday, Phuentsholing saw 345 cases since April 16.

The Mega Zone 2 alone has seen 147 cases (excluding the cases from primary contacts in the quarantine facilities), which is almost 50 percent of the total cases that were detected so far.

The task force chairman, Sonam Wangyel, pointed three primary reasons as to why positive cases are still detected from Mega-zone 2. Compliance issue is one.

“It is due to residue from the last mass testing. I think there are some who did not turn up for the mass testing,” he said.

Positive cases are also emerging because there is a high concentration of business places and activities in Mega Zone 2. And most of the quarantine facilities are located in Mega-zone 2.

Sonam Wangyel said: “By now, we all know that in order to protect oneself, we must use face masks properly, wash hands with soaps regularly and avoid gatherings even in a small crowd of three people. Practice these and make it a daily habit.”

However, the task force advises all to stay home as far as possible. Along with yesterday’s positive cases, others in the recent past confessed that they visited friends when the lockdown was relaxed.

“One local resident had not come forward for the mass testing organised recently. There may be others also who must have avoided intentionally despite our appeal and our repeated requests to undergo the mass testing,” the chairman said.

The task force underscored that RT-PCR tests are costly and organising mass testing is expensive, requesting to come forward whenever there is a mass testing.

Meanwhile, it is the 70th day since Phuentsholing went into the third lockdown and has not opened fully. On June 19, the bordering town saw some relaxations but Mega Zone 2 still had more restrictions compared to Mega Zone 1 and 3 were given.

Many businessmen, especially shopkeepers in the town, have shared that the prolonged lockdown killed their business.

A businessman, Namgay, said businesses were going through a tough time.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk