Couple isolated at Phuentsholing hospital has no fever

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

Health officials are waiting for swab test results of the German couple suspected of Coronavirus symptoms as of yesterday night. Phuentsholing hospital sent throat and sputum swab to the Royal Centre for Disease Control in Serbithang, Thimphu, by road.

The tourists who entered Phuentsholing after visiting New Delhi and Sikkim are kept under observation yesterday at Phuentsholing general hospital after one of them was found with fever when checked at the second border gate in Phuentsholing. However, after repeated test at the Phuentsholing hospital, the couple did not show any fever. They are still at the hospital and isolated until the test resulted are out.

The Indian driver and guide, both Sikkimese, were allowed to leave after the hospital checked them for fever. The Bhutanese guide and driver were also allowed to leave the hospital.

This was the first suspected case of Coronavirus among tourists entering from Phuentsholing.

Amid fears of spreading Coronavirus, more than 200 tourists from foreign countries (excluding India) have entered Bhutan, this year, from Phuentsholing as of March 4. The tourists are from countries that have recorded huge number of Coronavirus cases like Italy, South Korea,    Germany, Singapore and France. Other countries include America, Belgium, Australia and Russia.

On March 2, five Italians entered Bhutan from Phuentsholing. Although they have come from the affected Italian regions of Lombardy, Emelia, Toscana and Veneto, none showed signs of the COVID-19 and were let into the country. The tourists are staying in the country until March 9, as per information provided in their Health Declaration Forms (HDF).

Italy is one of the worst affected countries in the European region with a record 2,036 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of March 3 and additional 347 (new) cases, as per the WHO Situation report-43. About 52 deaths were reported until March 3 and additional 17 as per the report.

The WHO report also shows that after Italy, France and Germany recorded are the most affected countries in Europe.

Meanwhile, at the point of entries in Phuentsholing, health officials and all other agency officials are monitoring the people 24 hours. There is no fear and panic among the general public and no suspect cases have been reported.

At the main entry point near the main gate, health officials are continuously checking people’s temperature with non-contact infrared thermometer. As of March 4, a total of 974,476 people were scanned.

Out of the total, 147 had fever but they were local people and did not have any travel history to affected places. The counting started from February 6.

Starting February 26, those with fever are sent to the hospital for further verification after cross checking, the drungkhag health officer (DHO), Passang Tshering said.

A total of 1,032 people entering Bhutan have filled up HDFs. Earlier, only tourists, including regional tourists from affected place were asked to fill the HDF.

“All tourists are now asked to fill the HDF,” the DHO said.

The challenge still remains with identifying Bhutanese who have travelled to other countries and enter Phuentsholing. As of yesterday, about 22 Bhutanese, who have travel history to affected places, have filled in their HDFs.

A team from the health ministry, Desuups, RBP and other relevant agencies start monitoring point of entries as early as six. After 10pm, when the pedestrian entry points are closed, RBP personnel take over the task at the gates.