… health officials say the lockdown helped prevent the virus from spreading

Nima | Gelephu

With 28 positive cases reported in the past three days, Sarpang Central School is identified as one of the red clusters in Sarpang.

A student from the school was the first community case outside Gelephu thromde in Sarpang dzongkhag. She showed flu-like symptoms and then later tested positive for Covid-19 on January 20.

There are 28 active cases in the school today and 10 of them were moved to an isolation facility in Gelephu. The dzongkhag task force is planning to convert the old hostel of the school into an isolation facility.

Close to 270 samples were tested from the school campus on January 20.

Ten out of 140 day-scholar students were tested for Covid-19 but all of them tested negative so far. The dzongkhag plans to accommodate day-scholars students within the school premises.

While health officials are yet to ascertain the source of infection in Gelephu thromde, a recent meeting held to manage the outbreak in Sarpang CS on Friday highlighted that the disease could have reached the school from Gelephu.

One of the students returned to the school from the Rabdeyling area in Gelephu, according to the task force officials. Rabdeyling is identified as a red zone and reported four community cases last week.

Health officials said the situation in the school was not that difficult, as the active cases were from the containment area. “There could be more cases from within the primary contacts,” said the official.

The students were segregated into different groups based on the risk profiles. There were no major symptoms reported from the students to date.  

Two days after the community case from Sarpang CS, another four community cases were reported from Jigmecholing gewog; the second gewog in Sarpang to report community case on January 22.

All cases were from the same family.

The index case of the family was the father who works as a driver and had travelled from Gelephu on January 15. Health officials said family members could be exposed from the father.

Primary contacts of the index case tested negative. Contact tracing was completed in the gewog.

Health officials said that they were more worried after a community case emerged from Jigmecholing but came to know that the spread was limited to the family. “The lockdown was effective in containing the spread. All close contacts tested negative,” said officials.

The task force has identified Gelephu thromde, Sarpang Tar, and Jigmecholing gewog as red zones.

Sarpang reported 151 active cases from the community, close contacts in quarantine facilities, and foreign workers and Bhutanese returnees since January 3.

The highest active cases of 44 were from foreign workers followed by 40 students.

Meanwhile, Gelephu regional hospital received three health staff from nearby districts with some health staff exposed to the virus as primary contacts. The hospital also requested PPE support from Sarpang hospital.