Nima | Gelephu

Panbang drungkhag reported its first Covid-19 positive case in an 18-year-old student who was travelling from Nganglam to Gelephu via Panbang on January 18.

The 18-year-old tested positive on antigen test twice on January 17 and came positive on RT-PCR confirmatory test conducted in Eastern region referral hospital, Mongar the next day.

There were 18 individuals travelling in three bolero taxis that day. All close contacts of the index case were quarantined in Panbang, including 27 close contacts in Nganglam. Samples from the 18 close contacts tested negative on the antigen test.

The student is also isolated in Panbang.

Panbang drungkhag in Zhemgang falls in a high-risk zone. Safe for the single case detected on Tuesday, there are no cases reported from the dzongkhag to date.

Taskforce officials from Zhemgang said the close contacts, currently quarantined in Panbang, would be tested again after a few days.

Drungkhag task force officials said the student could be exposed to the virus from two drivers who arrived from Phuentsholing and gathered at her home for dinner on January 13 evening.

The father of the student and drivers work with the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited. 

The movement between high risk to high-risk areas in containment mode was not resumed in Nganglam on that day.

Taskforce officials said the containment facility for drivers moving between high-risk areas operated when the positive cases were reported from high-risk areas such as Gelephu and Phuentsholing.

The drungkhag has started to operate the movement for drivers travelling between high-risk areas in the containment mode after detecting a positive case from Panbang on Tuesday.

“Both drivers tested positive in Phuentsholing after returning to Phuentsholing. We suspect the student was exposed to the virus from drivers. If the drivers did not test positive, there was a probable chance of infection from the community,” said an official.

The 27 close contacts of the 18-year-old, who were traced and tested for Covid-19 in Nganglam, tested negative on the antigen test. Without a single case from the community to date, the situation in Nganglam is normal, according to officials.

The containment facility for drivers moving between high-risk areas was discontinued in October last year. However, the drivers were screened for Covid-19 once a week in the respective place.

There was no requirement for Covid-19 screening and test at the border checkpoints while travelling from high-risk to high-risk zones. Both Nganglam and Phuentsholing are in high-risk zones, according to drungkhag officials.

The drivers carrying loads on regular basis were in Nganglam on January 13, 14, and returned to Phuentsholing on January 15.