Nima Wangdi

Having plotted the red and the yellow zones in Phuentsholing, 16 teams of health officials from Thimphu are deployed for the second round of the active community surveillance beginning today. About 4,600 residents of the yellow zones will be tested.

Pemaling, Toorsa kidu housing colony and National Housing Development Corporation’s (NHDC) housing colony B in Toorsa fall in the yellow zones based on the contact with the red zone residents. There were also a few positive cases in these areas.

The team is expected to complete testing on September 6.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that the test results would determine whether the yellow zones would turn red or green (normal). For example, there are 100 people living in NHDC housing colony. Many testing positive among them would declare the area as a red zone. Likewise, in Pemaling, none testing positive would make it a green zone.

Lyonpo said that the entire Phuentsholing was a risky zone. Having the most number of Covid-19 positive cases, Project DANTAK camp is identified as the red zone. With one each positive cases, livestock store and the flu clinic near Project DANTAK camp are also being identified as a cordoned or containment area.

Phuentsholing Covid-19 taskforce has separate protocols for the red and yellow zones. It prohibits people from entering the red zone and the people inside the zone from coming out. This is because of the risk of more positive cases in the red zone.

“We also have guards for the zones,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said the people in the red zone would be tested only after 21 days. However, those symptomatic ones will be tested at any time.

For Phuentsholing as a whole, there may be some relaxations on lockdown outside the red and yellow zones.

Lyonpo said for the red zone, the 21-day lockdown period started on September 3 and since then the national Covid-19 task force endorsed the risk assessment of the areas and the demarcation proposal by the health ministry.

“Led by Phuentsholing Covid-19 task force, zone demarcation is underway,” the minister said.

Lyonpo said people might see repeated testing as a hassle but they must continue cooperating since early detection was key to containment. “Detecting a case earlier by a day could make a big difference,” she said, adding that people must be cautious about the virus, as it could be anywhere.

Over seven hundred kilometres of porous border stretch pose risks and all the bordering areas in the country are equally risky, the minister said.

Apart from Phuentsholing, the southern Covid-19 task force is looking into other southern areas for which a different protocol will be set.

“All the protocols will adapt to the evolution of the epidemic,” she said.