Yangchen C Rinzin
Health Minister Dechen Wangmo made it clear yesterday that hereon anyone who violates quarantine facility protocol will have to bear the expenses for quarantine—Nu 21,000 for 21 days.
Also, the violators will have to do community service for ten days.
“We have been requesting people to follow the quarantine dos and don’ts and they are briefed before sending to quarantine centre,” the health minister said. “However, despite requesting them not to come out of the centre, many do not follow and violate the protocol.”
She added that recently there was an incident where a group of people at the quarantine centre had gathered and partied late into the night. The officials visited the centre as soon as the incident was reported.
“We tested all those gathered and also police personnel, DeSuups, and health officials stationed at the centre,” lyonpo said. “This is why we had to come up with such penalties and it will be imposed on this group of people.”
Lyonpo added that penalty was also made because despite the closure of borders, people still sneaked in and out. “Earlier when found, they were quarantined for 21 days. Now they will be quarantined and make them bear the expenses.”
This will also be imposed on those who visit restricted areas, including people who come to handover the packages at the quarantine centres without permission.
“We’ll also immediately quarantine them and they will pay on their own,” Lyonpo said.
According to the protocol, the packages shall be handed over to security personnel at the facilities, which would then be handed over to health officials after inspection and deliver to the person only during mealtime. Outsiders are not allowed to meet individuals in the quarantine.
A total of 5,590 people have been quarantined so far, of which 3,425 were discharged as of April 30.
Lyonpo added that 75 percent of those who were quarantined were students aged between 18 and 25 years old.
Two Bhutanese patients from India are quarantined in Phuentsholing with five attendants. Nine more patients, mostly cancer patients, are being quarantined in Thimphu with 13 attendants. Twelve quarantined women are expecting mothers.
Lyonpo said that the health ministry had amassed enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to last for at least six months as of now.
“A CSO, in coordination with health ministry, will be producing about 2,500 PPE, and 80 pieces have already been produced and used,” Lyonpo said. “It has committed to produce about 200,000 masks, however, it will not be used for health officials at the frontline.”
The health ministry has so far spent Nu 49 million to buy PPE and have ordered additional PPE from abroad.
“I would like to request the people to not gather in large numbers or visit crowded places as today is Zhabdrung Kuchoe. When we say picnic is allowed we do not mean office picnic,” Lyonpo said.