Nima Wangdi   

With Covid-19 positive cases being detected from the community even after 20 days of lockdown, people suspect those who were released from quarantine to be the source of the virus.

An NPPF colony resident said the virus should be airborne or the people released from quarantine should be the source of the virus.

“Why should people still have contact with the virus when no one is allowed to go out of their mega zone or Thimphu otherwise?” he questioned. “People talk about a few incidents of people testing positive right after they were released from quarantine.”

He, however, admitted that he doesn’t have any evidence.

The corporate employee said the cases were reported in Dechencholing, Olakha, and Babesa in Thimphu, as well as the recent Paro case.

“I am told that a man, who returned from Kolkata on January 15 was released from quarantine on January 30, but he reportedly tested positive on February 4 when he visited the Olakha flu clinic.”

He also claimed two women tested positive after they returned to Babesa from Phuentsholing. “They were quarantined and released after completing their quarantine period. The family members also said that they don’t have a travel history. “This means the source of the virus could be Phuentsholing.”

He also claimed a woman who returned from Phuentsholing also tested positive in Dechenchholing after completing her quarantine period. “However, some suspect that she could be the primary contact of an index case.”

Another Thimphu resident said he is still wondering how people test positive even after 20 days of lockdown. “We have heard about positive cases being detected from the community on different occasions, but the Ministry of Health never explains how they contracted the disease.”

He said they just heard that the surveillance teams were working on case details and tracing contacts, but there was no information on the original source of the virus.

Another resident in Zilukha said that he also started to doubt the efficiency of the test kits, as the coronavirus keeps on mutating. “The test kits must be failing to detect the virus at times and allowing it to spread into the community.”

He suggested an extension of the existing quarantine periods, both for those moving from high-risk places to low risk, and those returning from abroad.

However, health experts clarified that there is no case of people detected with Covid-19 after completion of their seven-day quarantine period to date from the Ministry of Health’s knowledge. “A seven-day quarantine period for domestic travellers is a safe period to detect any positive case of Covid-19.”

Officials stated that the accuracy of the test depends on the date of exposure and testing. “RT-PCR tests can detect infection as early as 24 hours to more than 30 days from the date of exposure. However, the infectious period of an infected individual ranges from two days prior to onset of symptoms, peaking at three to six days after the onset of the symptoms.”

They claimed RT-PCR will not be able to detect people who are exposed and tested on the same day, or the next day of exposure as the virus needs time to infect and multiply. “Studies have shown that the viral shedding stops 10 days after the onset of symptoms. The current Omicron outbreak data has shown that the symptoms in 98 percent of the patients started to show within seven days from the date of exposure.”

Officials also said that given these facts, a one-week quarantine is adequate to detect the infected individuals by RT-PCR on day seven, provided there was no breach of quarantine protocol. “Breach of quarantine is rare, as the quarantine facilities are under the vigilance of frontliners round the clock.”

During a recent panel discussion on national television, National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group member and the head of Royal Centre for Disease Control Dr Sonam Wangchuk said there is no reason that people should doubt testing kits. “We procure test kits from South Korea and we ask them if the test kits are still effective when we buy them. We get confirmation in writing from them, authenticating the test kits.”