Phub Dem | Paro

As the gateway town, Paro is gearing up to prevent the spread of coronavirus after the first case was confirmed yesterday.

There is an unusual rush in Paro town. Medical shops, groceries and fuel depots are overwhelmed with people lining to stock up rations and empty the last piece of masks and hand sanitizers.

Handicrafts shops and restaurants that cater to tourists remained closed with many commuters and pedestrians covered in mask.

Paro dzongkhag administration along with Dessups, health officials, officials from Paro College of Education were busy preparing for the quarantine facilities in Rinpung campus in Paro College of Education (PCE).

According to a health official, 20 beds were set up in the college campus to accommodate those who would require quarantine.

The beds were set-up in classrooms and boy’s self-catering hostel. The self-catering students were shifted to the main hostel.

President of PCE, Dorji Thinley, said that he received the message only in the morning stating that the college campus would be used for quarantine. “Since then we have been making necessary arrangements.”

Although the plan to make Rinpung campus as a quarantine space was discussed in dzongkhag tshogdue the other day, the college was not informed.

At the 7th DT session, gups questioned the preparedness of Paro health officials regarding COVID-19 reasoning Paro as the gateway to hundreds of tourists.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ugyen Wangdi, said teams were ready if any positive case was reported to Paro hospital. He said that two rooms with four beds were allocated as isolation rooms away from the general Outpatient Department.

He added that passengers holding area in airport is equipped with four beds.

Meanwhile, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines announced that except on official travel and those holding resident permits, the airlines would restrict tourists visiting the country for two weeks.

According to a press release from Drukair, tourists traveling to Bhutan on an official visa or those on resident permits will have to produce official documents from relevant agencies without which the airline would deny boarding of passengers.

It also stated that the airline would provide full refund to those affected passengers and that the passengers could also choose to reschedule their flight.

Chief Executive Officer of Drukair Tandi Wangchuk said that the restriction was only for tourists and not Bhutanese residents. He said that there was no restriction on outgoing flights.

The airline also initiated enhanced aircraft cleaning procedures among other measures including the use of disinfectant, hand sanitizer, masks, and other protective equipment, according to the press release.

Druk Waste Management that collects waste from hotels and resorts suspended garbage collection as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

However, municipal engineer, Kencho Dorji, said that the municipal would continue to collect waste as per the schedule until further notice.

Paro dzongdags, Tenzin Thinley, said that those tourists who are already in the country would be allowed to visit sites and monuments with precautionary measures such as wearing masks and using hand sanitizer.