Nima Wangdi 

If a person from an apartment in a building tests positive for Covid-19, the whole building will not be cordoned off hereafter. Only the unit would be closed, referred to as a red flat.

The concept of red flats has been implemented in Thimphu since March 7, according to health officials.

Head of the Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC) and a member of National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG) Dr Sonam Wangchuk said only the apartment where the positive person lives will be sealed. “People living in the rest of the apartments of the building will continue working as usual.”

“This might not be applicable if the neighbours living in the same building have high interaction. We might have to cordon off the whole building in such cases,” he said not many neighbours in the urban areas interact with their neighbours given their experience.

He said the people living in the red flats will not be allowed to break the red seal sticker that seals the door with the door frame. The red seal is given since de-suups can’t be guarding them. The red seal will be for 10 days after which the officials will remove it.

He said people can still choose isolation centres if they have problems. “But it will depend on the availability of isolation facilities in their locality.”

“A focal de-suup will assist them with essential supplies. The official will break the seal and reseal it after the residents collect the supplies. The person will be dealt accordingly if they broke the seal illegally,” he said.

After 10 days, residents will be allowed to come out and if they remain still symptomatic, it could be extended to 14 days at the most. “The testing schedule will also be different. 

The person will be tested on day zero, day 10 and then have no test after that.”

“Red chiwog concept will also not be relevant hereafter but we can have red community depending on the outbreak of the virus,” Dr Sonam Wangchuk said.

Likewise, there would be red clusters only under certain conditions where people have to share facilities like toilets and water. “We might have very less and small clusters in unavoidable places or have none at all as we go forward,” he said.

The zoning committee member, Tashi Penjor said on national television recently that there are 115 red buildings and 13 red clusters in Thimphu Thromde and its periphery as of last week.

All these changes have been made to reduce red buildings and red clusters in the country thereby reducing inconvenience to the public.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that cordoning off the whole area after assessing the risk factors was done in the past to eliminate the virus from the community which has now changed.


After testing positive

The surveillance team will conduct a risk assessment after a positive case is detected. If the team feels that the patient needs mental health services, the contact numbers of counsellors will be provided.

Only asymptomatic and mild patients will be kept in home isolation and the severe cases will be taken to isolation wards.

A team of doctors will follow up with the positive cases virtually every day. “The team might not be able to do this every day for 10 days but they will do it for three to four days after testing positive, which is a critical period. They will ask if the patients have any symptoms through video calls or through phone calls.”

“Since people feel satisfied seeing the doctor in person, video calls are preferred,” he said.

The surveillance team, after assessing the risk will decide whether or not to keep a positive case in home isolation. The list of home isolated patients will be shared with the medical team who in turn will follow up later. Similar set-ups are in place in all dzongkhags.

“The team will also monitor primary contacts if they have developed any symptom,” Dr Sonam Wangchuk said the same is being practised in Phuentsholing already.

Covid-19 update

A total of 441 positive cases were detected in the last 24 hours of which 119 are from the community.

Chukha has the maximum with 75 community cases and Thimphu stands second with 15.

Meanwhile, 68.98 percent of children between 5-11 years were vaccinated at the end of the third day of the nationwide pediatric vaccination campaign yesterday.