Phub Dem 

Those who live in Paro and travel to work in Thimphu every day say that the Paro Covid-19 task force’s deviation from the Prime Minister’s notification has created confusion.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a notification on February 13 saying that those taking a day trip to Thimphu from nearby dzongkhags need not have RT-PCR test results. However, the travellers were asked to show an e-pass with a RT-PCR result that is valid for three days when returning home.

An employee of a Civil Society Organisation in Thimphu said it was confusing when directives and implementation don’t match.

The notification states that the police will monitor the movement via the Check Post Management System. Still, those returning to Paro were asked to show both CPMs and e-pass registration.

A corporate employee, Phub Dem said that it was acceptable to ask for the test results, considering the risk in Thimphu, but there should be clear directives to avoid confusion.

She said that the delay in test results would hamper timely registration for an e-pass, stranding travellers. “It takes a day to get the RT-PCR test result.”

She said that the police personnel at the Chuzom checkpoint said that all those returning to Paro from Thimphu should produce an e-pass until the end of this month whether it is a day trip or not.

However, according to a Paro dzongkhag Covid-19 task force member, the incoming travellers from Thimphu were asked to produce the test results considering the risks of infection.

The official said there were risks of transmission with people visiting Thimphu for a day’s trip as they would mingle and meet with Thimphu residents.

The official said that unless the passengers are under surveillance, ensuring they did not meet or come in contact with anyone, Paro is at risk if they allow people to return from Thimphu without negative test results.

He said that Paro should work on extra measures as it has risks from Sorchen, positive cases in quarantine facilities that house incoming travellers from abroad, and Thimphu, which still has red buildings and is not risk-free.

In the meantime, Kuensel learnt that the issue has been submitted to higher authorities for consideration.