Those infected reluctant to share accurate information with health officials   

Younten Tshedup  

Despite stringent measures, Phuentsholing continues to see Covid-19 positive cases from the community 50 days after becoming a Red Zone on August 13.

Besides the positive cases detected from containment areas and quarantine centres, on September 29, a 32-year-old woman tested positive for the virus at a flu clinic in Phuentsholing. The following day, her one-and-half-year-old son also tested positive for Covid-19.

Health Minster Dechen Wangmo during a press conference yesterday said that Phuentsholing still has an active infection in the community. Those testing positive in the border town showed varying stages of infection.

“Some of them have acute infection meaning they were recently infected. While there are also people who are detected at a later stage when they are about to get cured.”

Lyonpo said that although Phuentsholing was a Covid-19 hotspot, conducting mass testing again in the entire community was not epidemiologically recommended.

Lyonpo said that risk profiling of certain locations was conducted as and when positive cases emerged.

The case 

According to sources, the 32-year-old woman in Phuentsholing tested positive while taking her mother to the hospital for another illness. The mother required hospital admission and as per the health ministry’s protocol, both were tested.

The woman tested positive on the antigen test and then on the RT-PCR. The woman had some mild symptoms but did not visit a flu clinic.

Royal Centre for Disease Control’s (RCDC) head and a member of the technical advisory group (TAG), Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that people were still not visiting the flu clinics despite having symptoms.

“We still don’t understand if it’s because of the stigma of being branded Covid positive or if people really didn’t care.”

He said that so far, majority of the positive cases detected from the community maintained that they didn’t have any travel histories to high-risk areas.

Kuensel learned that the 32-year-old also shared that she had not travelled or had any contacts besides her family members.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that it was almost impossible to get infected if an individual had stayed indoors. “This virus is primarily spread when a person comes in close contact with an infected individual.”

The woman’s husband tested negative. Until recently, the husband was living outside in a contained facility.

Considering that the husband could be a possible suspect, health officials also conducted antibody test. The antibody test detects antibodies, the body’s response to an infection and suggests possible exposure to the antigen (virus).

Also, given the close proximity of the woman’s house to the international border and IMTRAT campus, officials suspect there could have been some contact between her and those from across the border or IMTRAT campus.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that investigations so far have not been able to establish any links between Covid-19 outbreaks in different parts of the country.

“This is because people are not sharing the truth with us, which affects our containment efforts.”

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that people should avoid visiting the high-risk areas including Phuentsholing.

“Our responsibility is to treat people when they test positive. But the people have a more important responsibility of preventing the spread of the disease. Please be responsible and comply with the public health measures at all times.”