Bhutan confirms first COVID-9 case, govt temporarily bans incoming tourists

- A Monitor Desk Report 07 Mar, 2020 | 1242 Views|-+
Dhaka: The Ministry of Health in a press release confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Bhutan. The ministry said one positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed at 11 pm on March 5. The result was validated at 12.30 am on March 6.

The patient is a 76-year-old from the United States of America, who had come to Bhutan as a tourist. He had entered the country from Paro International Airport, after embarking on the Drukair flight KB241 from Guwahati, India on March 2.

Adhering to the National Preparedness and Response Plan, and the operating procedures in place, all follow-up actions were initiated immediately. The King of Bhutan personally oversaw implementation of the response strategy, as teams operated from Ministry of Health all through the night.

The patient was touring India from February 21 to March 1. He had started his travel from Washington DC on February 18. The patient was travelling with his partner, aged 59. There were 10 passengers on board, of which eight others were Indian nationals.

Upon confirmation, he has been isolated in the COVID-19 hospital. Considering his age and underlying conditions, the patient is on oxygen support.

At the time of the press release, over 90 contacts have been traced. Health officials and other relevant agencies are in the process of carrying out primary disease management and contact tracing.

Contact tracings were launched as per the patient’s itinerary. It included people he associated with at all the points and stops along the way, starting from Paro airport to Thimphu, to Punakha and back. It included tea stops at Druk Wangyal Café, and lunch at Punakha High School park.

All the close contacts including his partner, driver, guide and the eight Indian passengers have been quarantined at the designated COVID-19 hospital.

As per the National Preparedness and Response Plan, with the detection of first confirmed case of COVID-19, the country stepped into “Orange” zone. The zone is defined as having one or more isolated confirmed cases without secondary transmission.

Conforming with the response plan, the government announced closure of schools and institutes in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha for two weeks with effect from March 6.

The government has also imposed two weeks’ restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect. This is to enable rigorous monitoring, source assessment of infection and mitigate the situation. In addition, all international conferences and seminars to be held in the country in the two weeks are also postponed.

The government will assess the situation after two weeks and accordingly decide on the restrictions.

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