Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

A 98-year-old woman in Phuentsholing, Priti Rai, has been shifted to her granddaughter’s home at Ramitey from the Amochhu Temporary Shelter recently.

She is among the 25 people who were living in the temporary shelter with existing health problems or comorbidities.

The Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC-19TF) shifted them considering the increasing number of positive cases in the temporary shelter and the risks involved.

Priti Rai’s grandson-in-law, Tashi Tenzin, said it has been more than a week now since the woman was with them. “She is doing fine.”

Similarly, another 71-year-old woman was shifted to her relative’s place away from the temporary settlement.

As per the SC-19TF, separate arrangements were made for other 23 people with comorbidities.

Accommodation for 11 individuals has been arranged at Gaiguri Lhakhang, located more than 10kms away from Phuentsholing, towards Thimphu.

“10 people from two families have left for Thimphu as per their wish after the quarantine period,” SC-19TF member Thinley Dorji said.

Thinley Dorji said the arrangement was done considering the widespread transmission of the virus in Amochhu temporary shelter. “All residents with comorbidities were identified and quarantined in a hotel before accommodating or sending them to safer places.”

He said the focus is on those living in the lhakhang. “The task force is supplying the essentials. A doctor and a dietician are also identified to monitor their health on a regular basis.”

Since people with existing problems were shifted from the temporary shelter with their consent, a woman didn’t want to move out of Amochhu and continued to stay there as per her wish. She is the lone person with comorbidity in the area.

Meanwhile, the temporary shelter has 122 blocks that are currently occupied. As of February 16, 74 of the 122 blocks, meaning 61 percent, were infected by Covid-19, among which many have recovered and many are recovering.

Due to risk foreseen from this shelter, arrangements have been made to prevent and control transmissions.

The SC-19TF chairman, Sonam Wangyel, said Amochhu temporary shelter is a very important location.

“Whatever we are doing is for the safety of the residents inside the compound.”

He said it was unfortunate a positive case tested inside the shelter, which led to further transmission.

“Given the proximity of the units and further risks, it was crucial no further unfortunate incidents happened.”

Currently, there are more than 900 families with a total population of about 2,900 people living in the shelter.

There has always been tremendous pressure from the people to allow them to move freely. However, given the massive number of populace, containments and strict vigilance have been part of the life for the people inside.

A committee called Amochhu Temporary Shelter Management Committee (ATSMC) has been formed and it is chaired by the executive secretary of Phuentsholing thromde, Lungten Jamtsho.

The blocks are divided into five zones. Zones one to four have their own outlets to order groceries and vegetables. Zone five has its own.

All essential items, including tobacco products and liquor are home-delivered by the identified two outlets.

Lungten Jamtsho said they are working closely with the five tshogpas and five other representatives from the temporary shelter.

“We also have a focal person, a doctor, who particularly looks into the medical intervention and support of the people in the shelter,” he said, adding that there are focal persons for all issues related to kidu, thromde, and essentials.

Police, desuups and tshogpas from the shelter monitor the Covid-19 safety protocols inside the clusters.

The shelter was also kept under containment before the 10 days’ complete lockdown. After the completion of the mass testing, Phase-I relaxation was started yesterday, which will end on February 23. From February 24, Phase-II relaxation will begin.