Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

With many Phuentsholing residents questioning whether there would be a lockdown if another community case emerges in the coming days, officials said they would only impose limited cluster or building level lockdowns.

The chairman of the Southern Covid-19 task force (SC19TF) said as long as cases are detected early, isolated and contacts are identified rapidly and quarantined, exposure of the larger community should be minimal.

He, however, said if a large-scale community transmission is suspected, particularly within unvaccinated population, lockdown of the Phuentsholing thromde might be necessary.

Right now, with heightened surveillance and monitoring and given that more than 90 percent of the eligible residents are vaccinated, the SC19TF is hopeful that a thromde level lockdown may not have to be imposed.

Phuentsholing reopened on August 10, after more than 115 days under lockdown since the town first went under the third lockdown on April 17 this year.

However, just as the task force announced the news of relaxations on August 9 evening, a 34-year-old man was detected positive from the flu clinic.

He works as a logistics team member (loader) in one of the business establishments. He was staying in a containment mode at a hotel in the core town along with 12 other workers from the same company.

The task force said 18 primary contacts were traced and quarantined. The building was immediately cordoned off as a red building.

The relaxations continued.

Meanwhile, Phuentsholing sprang up to life on the first day of relaxation on August 10. Most of the town residents had come to shop for their children who would be leaving for Punakha soon.

As the way forward, the task force said that they will continue targeted enhanced surveillance of high-risk groups and unvaccinated people, early testing of symptomatic cases and strengthening of Covid-19 compliance monitoring.

They also said they would continue education and advocacy of the general public.

The SC19TF also reminded the residents that risk of importation and community transmission still remains high as the pandemic is rapidly evolving around the world and in the neighbourhood.

“Further, the unvaccinated population, especially children below 12 years and those with comorbidities are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 infection and complications.”

The SC19TF urges the general public to avoid unnecessary movement and interaction and avoid crowded places. People are also advised to always wear face masks, maintain physical distance and wash hands regularly.

The taskforce also advised people to practice overall good hygiene and cough etiquette and come forward early for testing if they have Covid-19 symptoms. 

Edited by Tashi Dema