P’ling gets first Covid-19 case

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

Phuentsholing yesterday got its first Covid-19 positive case, an imported case from India, in a 24-year-old woman who returned from New Delhi.

She arrived in Phuentsholing on May 26 and tested positive yesterday. She was the lone Bhutanese traveller and is suspected of having travelled by train.

This is the 28th Covid-19 case in the country. The case will be managed in Phuentsholing Covid-19 centre.

On May 25, two Bhutanese men also arrived in Phuentsholing from Nagaland, India. No Bhutanese entered Phuentsholing yesterday.

The Government of India has allowed resumption of domestic air travel in a calibrated manner from May 25 and has also indicated that passenger train services will resume from June 1.

The resumption of such services would allow Bhutanese nationals residing in India to return to Bhutan by taking domestic flights to Bagdogra or Guwahati and train to New Jalpaiguri or Alipurduar.

Meanwhile, this case has taken Phuentsholing residents by surprise. With the easing of the travel restrictions in India, many Bhutanese across India are expected to return home and this, people say is going to bring along the risks.

A private employee residing in Phuentsholing said that with the travel ban lifted in India, there are chances that Phuentsholing will receive many more positive cases like those Bhutanese returning from the Middle East.

“I heard many are going to return from India,” he said, adding that there was a need to be prepared.

“Besides, I hope we have enough beds and equipment to handle the cases. We also need enough health workers to attend to new cases in case the scenario worsens.”

Another resident, Anu Rai said it was expected of Phuentsholing. But now, people must cooperate with whatever the safety measures the government has asked to practice, she added.

“We must understand it is for our own safety and not any form of harassment,” she said, adding that people should be even ready for a lockdown situation.

A businessman said there must be maximum precautionary measures in place and that the residents must be extra careful. “There shouldn’t be any community transmission or else everything will fall apart,” he said.

Phuentsholing has been preparing for such an eventuality ever since the border was sealed on March 23. With all the entry points sealed, Bhutanese enter through the main gate.

Those who enter are thoroughly scanned for any symptoms, before being sent to quarantine facilities. All the safety and protective gears are used.

Unless they have travelled together, two persons are not kept in the same room at the quarantine centre.

Meanwhile, a press release from the Royal Bhutanese Embassy (RBE) in New Delhi, India on May 25 stated that all Bhutanese returning to Bhutan have to register with them before taking the journey.

The RBE stated that Bhutanese are also required to furnish details of travel arrangements and contact details of their guardians in Bhutan.  Then, RBE would issue a letter to certify that the concerned Bhutanese had informed the Embassy. The copy of the letter would be provided to the Covid-19 Task Force in Bhutan.

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