Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The 72-hour blackout period that was announced after a local Covid-19 positive case in Phuentsholing ends today.

The three-day shutdown began on January 7 after an expatriate woman, aged 37, tested positive for Covid-19. She worked at Lucky Bar and Restaurant in the heart of town. After 24 hours, the Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC19TF) started a phase-wise opening. Export and import activities resumed. The movement of stranded people was also facilitated after testing.

However, the second phase of the unlocking will depend on the results of the samples collected yesterday.

A total of 799 samples were collected from front-liners who were not tested in the past week, including other high-risk groups such as truckers, taxi drivers, and customers who visited the eatery.

A Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC19TF) member, Rixin Jamtsho said: “All the individuals who have visited the restaurant are advised to keep under strict home quarantine, and they were called individually by the helpline staff.”

“About 36 percent of the total individuals who visited the restaurant were from peri-urban areas of Phuentsholing town and they have been advised to quarantine at home,” he said.

A total of 557 samples collected from the community on January 8 turned out negative. Out of those, 305 samples were collected from contacts and those who visited Lucky Restaurant and Bar.

A resident, Melam, said: “As all the primary contacts have been traced and tested negative, I think the unlocking process should be implemented accordingly.”

He also said irrespective of the Covid-19 vaccines taken, anyone entering the country should now be quarantined for 21 days.

“It doesn’t mean you don’t get infected if you are double dosed. I think a 21-day mandatory quarantine should be implemented immediately,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) announced yesterday that the approval of foreign workers’ permits has been suspended, owing to the global upsurge in the Covid-19 cases. The work permit services will resume when the restriction on the entry of foreign workers is lifted.

The number of Omicron cases has increased rapidly across the globe. By January 8, within 24 hours, India reported a total of 141,986 new Covid-19 cases, which was an increase of 21 percent. Out of the total, 2,135 cases were Omicron variants. Furthermore, 70 percent of the total Covid-19 cases in Kolkata are Omicron.