Under the Royal Government of Bhutan, the Ministry of Health has been vigilant.
Since January, the Ministry of Health and Royal Center for Disease Control has had a National Preparedness and Response Plan including designated staff as per standard protocol and WHO recommended procedures for sample collection, storage, packaging and shipment of specimens. These teams have been identified to perform continued tests until the Covid -19 infection is no longer a health concern.
Since February 1, 2020 apart from the stringent checks at all entry points by land and air, the Ministry of Health has been issuing daily public service announcements and Global Situational Updates from WHO on all social media platforms and publications.
On March 5, Bhutan stepped into the Orange zone with the first case of confirmed Covid -19. The zone is defined as having one or more isolated confirmed cases without secondary transmission. His Majesty The King personally oversaw implementation of the response strategy.
Fortunately, all movements of the visitor were traced and a total of 90 people who were suspected to have come into contact were located. All 90 people have been placed in quarantine and so far tested negative. They are still under quarantine and are being constantly monitored.
On March 6th, conforming with the response plan, the Royal Government of Bhutan announced closure of schools and institutes in Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang and Phuentsholing.
A two week travel restriction at all entry points also went into immediate effect.
On March 7th all visas and permits were suspended until further notice. Seminars, Trade fairs, workshops and mass gatherings were deferred.
Equipped flu clinics, quarantine units and isolation wards have been identified and set up since January, to manage any cases that may arise in the different Dzongkhags.
The patient is a 76-year-old from the United States of America. He had entered the country from Paro International Airport on March 2. The patient was touring India from February 21 to March 1, and started his travel from Washington DC on February 18.
Norbu Bhutan will continue to send you Special Editions and updated information to help answer any questions you may have at this time.