The virus spreads beyond Gelephu thromde

Nima | Gelephu

Seven new community cases have been reported in Sarpang Central School, and Sarpang dzongkhag started detecting community cases from outside the Gelephu thromde yesterday.

A student from Sarpang CS reported to a flu clinic in Sarpang hospital with flu-like symptoms and tested positive both on antigen and RT-PCR tests.

The student was isolated.

Two friends accompanying her tested negative on both antigen and RT-PCR despite having flu-like symptoms, according to the health officials.

They were also isolated as a precautionary measure.

There were 26 roommates of the index cases staying in the girls’ hostel in Sarpang CS. Six of them tested positive, and the test results of the remaining swab samples are awaited.

Officials said 13 staff and four cooks working at the school were also tested.

There were 12 new cases from the quarantine facility in Gelephu, who are close contacts of the cases reported in the past five days.

Four new cases from the community yesterday were students.

Before the detection of community cases from Sarpang CS, positive cases were detected from Rabdeyling, Namkhaling, and Jampeling demkhongs in Gelephu thromde. The task force identified 12 red buildings to date.   

With a total of 23 new cases, Sarpang reported the highest number of new community cases in one day yesterday. Sarpang has 103 active cases to date, including 55 community cases. Seven of them are frontline workers.

There were 28 community cases up to yesterday.

Officials from the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force said the dzongkhag was in a comfortable state, with most community cases concentrated within Gelephu, until yesterday.

“There might be sporadic cases from other areas. Sarpang reported cases too,” an official said.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force formed a ‘Care Team’ to look after the welfare and wellbeing of the individuals in the isolation facilities.

The dzongkhag also plans to convert hotels used to quarantine routine travellers into isolation facilities.

Two task force members are leading the Care Team and a psychiatric nurse will be deployed with the team. Three hotels and an isolation ward located inside the old Gelephu hospital currently serve as an isolation facility in Gelephu.

With increasing cases reported from the community every day and health workers exposed to the Covid-19, Gelephu CRRH has started working in a containment mode.

Health staff will be working for seven days in turns. Both incoming and outgoing staff should produce a Covid-19 negative test before exiting and entering the containment. Respective departments in CRRH have developed a contingency plan.

The dzongkhag taskforce yesterday directed the medical team to strengthen the hospital contingency management plan and to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Taskforce officials claimed only support staff have been exposed to the virus directly until now.

Movement between high-risk to high-risk areas via India is facilitated upon producing negative RT-PCR results. Only light vehicles and passengers are allowed.

The movement from the dzongkhag to Nganglam and Panbang is facilitated after a negative antigen test.

The task force would permit working under containment mode for construction, workshops, and industries.

Officials said there should not be any movement in and out of the worksite. “A prior approval must be sought from the task force.”

The lockdown in Sarpang is extended for another 72 hours.

Wangdue and Punakha 

Twenty-three individuals from the community in Wangdue and three from Lobesa, Punakha tested positive yesterday. Prior to the test, over 1,050 samples were collected in Wangdue and around 1,400 samples from Punakha.

While 21 were from areas near Rurichhu in Wangdue, from which the first community case was detected, two are from Bajo town, Wangdue.

Punakha now has five positive cases.

While cases have been mounting, officials in Wangdue aren’t able to trace the source of the community case.

A water tanker driver with Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) first tested positive in Wangdue from the community on January 15. Only two days later, 110 individuals tested positive from the community in Wangdue.

Today, with the increasing number of cases, it seems impossible to trace the first person who got the virus in the community.

“There is a possibility that he could have got it from others and not the other way round. It also came as a blessing that he was detected,” said an official.

Officials are collecting samples from areas across the dzongkhag and contact tracing is underway.

Currently, records with the Wangdue-Punakha Covid-19 taskforce shows that there are 247 individuals with the virus in the two dzongkhags. This also includes 102 individuals from quarantine facilities in Wangdue.

Additional reporting by 

Phurpa  Lhamo