Dechen Dolkar  

The recent spate of Covid-19 cases in the community and from the quarantine centres was the Omicron variants, according to the Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC).

The centre collected 14 random samples from various quarantine facilities in Thimphu, Wangdue, Phuentsholing, and Paro, including the one community case from Phuentsholing.

A member of the Technical Advisory Group for Covid-19 Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that RCDC has completed the gene sequencing of representative RT-PCR positive samples and all samples from the gene sequencing were confirmed as Omicron variants.

This is the third batch of gene sequencing conducted by RCDC. The previous two batches of gene sequencing conducted on December 3, 2021 and January 3 of this year were confirmed as Delta variants.

He said that it was now assumed that all the positive cases detected recently are Omicron variants. It is because Omicron cases have surged in India and most of the positive cases have come from India.

“The Omicron variant was detected in both Bhutanese and non-Bhutanese,” he said.

He said that it was assumed that the positive cases detected in Samdrupjongkhar are also the Omicron variant though the gene sequencing was not done.

Since January 3, cases detected from quarantine facilities have surged in the country. On January 9 and 7, Bhutan recorded 21 new cases, 28 cases on January 11, and 36 positive cases were detected yesterday.

He said that all positive cases were in stable condition. “All are asymptomatic.”

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that with the surge in cases, all the positive case patients are taken to the isolation facility. There are two isolation facilities in Thimphu. The patients will be taken to an isolation ward in the hospital only if they are in serious condition.

He also said that the incubation period of Omicron is two to three days during which a person tests positive.

He also said that Omicron is highly transmissible compared to the other variants.

He said that those who were vaccinated take around five to six days to recover.

“To detect Omicron, gene sequencing has to be done, and that requires four to five days for results,” he said.

However, he said that they will not do gene sequencing of every positive case to confirm the variant since it is very expensive. “We may do this sometimes with random samplings.” The Ministry of Health asked people that in light of the detection of the Omicron variant in the country, the ministry would like to request the general public to take extra caution and continue to diligently take basic preventive measures.