Yangyel Lhaden

Detecting Covid-19 early can avoid grave consequences of the pandemic which is why everyone with flu symptoms must visit clinics for testing, the health minister said.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo in a press conference yesterday urged the public to visit flu clinic if anyone has Covid-19 or flu-like symptoms.

“With early detection, testing and tracing, treatment can be done effectively and will contain the virus from spreading further,” the minister said.

She said that flu-related symptoms should not be taken lightly. “Most of the Covid-19 positive cases failed to visit the flu clinic for early detection.”

Everyone who visits flu clinic with flu symptoms is tested for Covid-19 through antigen test which takes about 30 minutes.

Earlier, only the contacts of Covid-19 positive cases were tested. From September 1, everyone visiting flu clinic was tested for the virus. Between September 1 and October 1 around 5,500 people were tested at the flu clinics across the country.

The health minister said that if a person takes responsibility and visits flu clinic when they show symptoms of Covid-19, it could prevent the nation from having another lockdown.

“With early detection smart lockdown can be implemented, meaning only the vicinity area of the positive case will be locked down.”

There are 54 flu clinics in the country. On average, 205 people visit the flu clinics across the country every day, the minister said.

The flu clinic at Royal Bhutan Police ground in Thimphu saw about 65 patients yesterday.

The registrar at the flu clinic, Choki Dorji said that the number of visits had reduced.

However, people who showed mild symptoms of flu visited the clinic.

The health minister said that the government was looking into setting up about four new flu clinics in Thimphu and more clinics in the southern parts of the country. The government was also considering building a permanent flu clinic in Thimphu, lyonpo said.

“If people are reluctant to visit flu clinic then the flu clinics will be a waste,” the health minister said. “The nature of the virus is new and with little the knowledge we were more focused on precautionary measures.”

She asked the people to go to the clinic alone or call the hospital if they don’t have vehicles.

“Flu clinics are servicing around the clock. Covid-19 test is provided to all who visit the clinic. The services are provided free but it would be effective only if people take the responsibility and cooperate with the government,” the health minister said.