…people ask for details

Younten Tshedup

With another positive case confirmed on Saturday, Bhutan now has four Covid-19 cases as of yesterday.

The second Bhutanese to test positive for the virus is a student  who have returned from abroad and was quarantined in a hotel, Kuensel learnt.

The health ministry, identified as one of the sources for Covid-19 information, declined to share further details.

“The fourth person, a student, who has been detected with Covid-19 was under facility quarantine upon arriving in the country and has now been moved to an isolation room. We request the public that there is no need to panic as everything is under control,” states an update on the ministry’s Facebook page.

While the chances of public coming in contact with the patient remains minimal since the student was put in quarantine upon arrival, there are still many gray areas in the information provided by the ministry.

Health minister Dechen Wangmo in a recent press briefing said that the ministry adheres to two main procedures for information dissemination – being transparent and keeping the confidentiality of the patient.

However, unlike the third case, where the date and time of arrival of the patient including the location of embarkment were shared, the ministry has withheld any such information on the fourth case.

Without details on travel history and where the student was quarantined, many are questioning the incomplete information including what is shared by the media.

This according to many has generated more panic among the public including those who are already in the quarantine facilities.

Calling it a ‘suspense game’ people are demanding details on the positive cases.  Rinzin Norbu on Facebook wrote that while understanding the importance to maintain confidentiality of the patient, without some crucial details, the information remains incomplete.

 “When information is left in suspense, it creates more panic to the public. There are about 3,000 Bhutanese currently in quarantine centres and more than 6,000 people directly related to them are equally worried,” wrote another.

Many are also speculating that the fourth case could be the former roommate of the third case. “If this is the case, the government needs to immediately stop keeping two people together in the same room.”

Others have also questioned the quarantine time period following the incomplete information. “We want to know after how many days did the student test positive.”

Kuensel also received inquiries from those who are inside the quarantine facilities on the recent case and some of them blaming the media for not sharing complete information. “Was it from Thimphu? We had someone in our hotel complaining of fever and their samples were taken for test,” said a student under quarantine in Thimphu.

The concerns raised are not only from those who are in the quarantine centres and their family members but the general public and also crew members who have flown in over the past few days have shared the same concerns.

A pilot who had recently returned with a group of Bhutanese students said many flight crew members were equally worried when the news of another student testing positive was made public yesterday.

Meanwhile, a Bhutanese living in New York has also tested positive to Covid-19 according to officials with the Permanent Mission of Bhutan in New York.

The patient is hospitalised and is receiving medical care. The patient has underlying health conditions, according to a letter the Mission wrote to Bhutanese in the US. His wife is also quarantined, accoridng to sources in New York.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that with directives from His Majesty The King, all Bhutanese embassies are working round the clock to ensure the safety and well-being of Bhutanese residing abroad.

Lyonchhen said that he is in touch with the relatives and parents of the affected Bhutanese in New York and is giving them the all the support that they require in this situation.  

He added that it is imperative for all Bhutanese to show solidarity and pray for the well-being of all Bhutanese across the world.