Dechen Dolkar 

The standard operating procedure (SOP) for the quarantine facilities have been revised in response to an increasing number of frontline workers testing positive recently.

After the introduction of the Omicron variant in the country, several frontline workers have tested positive in the quarantine facilities.

From January 13 to 21, around 12 frontline workers working in quarantine facilities have tested positive.

During the virtual press conference on Friday, National Task Force member Karma Yonten said that with the increasing positive cases among frontline workers, they had a discussion with the de-suups on duty with regard to testing positive, and even with the National Task Force and Technical Advisory Group.

He said that the SOP that was developed for the Delta variant should be adequate for Omicron as well.

He said that there are two SOPs, one for health, and one for security. “When we reviewed the SOP a few months ago, both of the SOPs were reviewed and we also made sure that de-suups that are going to quarantine facilities are briefed on both security aspects by police and health aspects by Ministry of Health officials.

He said that de-suups mentioned that they were briefed and they claimed that they followed safety protocols.

“Frontline workers have requested better personal protective equipment, especially in quarantine facilities where we have quarantined individuals who have tested positive,” he said.

He said that earlier, they provided them with three-layer masks; now they are providing N95 masks.

He said that in manning quarantine facilities, having de-suups who are specially trained in the medical field by the Ministry of Health would be very useful. More de-suups will be trained for medical and deployed at facilities that have positive individuals.

He also said they try to reduce transmission of the virus within the quarantine facility and also worry about the virus reaching beyond quarantine facilities.

He also said that they have developed an SOP in quarantine facilities. De-suups will cordon off the quarantine facilities from the outside. “This will ensure that no one from the quarantine facility comes out and mixes with the communities.”

Lyonchhen said that when there are frontline workers testing positive, it means there has been some contact between the frontline workers and positive individuals.  However, there is no infection between the community and frontline workers.

“Those who got infected, if it is due to a breach, obviously it is the result of a mistake and if it was unavoidable we feel bad for them,” Lyonchhen said.

A member of TAG, Dr Tshokey, said that because of the high infectiousness of the Omicron variant, most frontline workers have been given a booster dose.