Lockdown lifted with immediate effect

The lockdown in Thimphu is being lifted with immediate effect, upon ruling out all possibilities of COVID-19 disease presence in the capital for now.

The confirmatory test of the eight-year-old suspect came out negative this afternoon. All close contacts and related 2,029 samples collected from the community also tested negative so far. We thank the residents of Thimphu throm, faculty and students of Druk school, the family members and close contacts for the unconditional support and cooperation.

The lockdown was imposed to prevent potential disease spread until double confirmation on RT-PCR, after repeated test on antigen of the suspected case strongly indicated COVID-19. It is critical that we maintain highest response standards, and do not compromise on all fronts, especially where it concerns our children. The suspect was from a school where children from across the town gather, so the disease spread could have been a disaster. Moreover, our children below 18 years have not received their vaccines yet.

The lockdown also offered opportunity to screen the capital of likely COVID-19 cases that could have evaded the routine surveillance of schools and other high risk groups. The 2,029 samples collected from nine different locations revealed evenly distributed representation across Thimphu.

We instituted intensified surveillance in all schools, among frontline workers and other high risk cohorts and tested every two weeks since January, following the last outbreak. In Thim throm alone, we conduct almost 600 tests daily and that does not include samples collected at the flu clinic and JDWNR hospital.

Meanwhile, the lockdown came as yet another reminder of the reality we are living amid the pandemic. While all are constantly reminded to be prepared for similar events that could come unannounced, the panic and chaos observed during the enforcement of this lockdown was far from encouraging.

However, we thank those who were prepared and followed the norms strictly.

While Thimphu is being declared clean for now, we already have 13 new cases in Gomtu and Tashichholing today. We have a long way to go before all of us are safe from COVID-19.

As we know, His Majesty The King is touring eastern part of the country to ensure safety and livelihood of our people. We urge everyone to be mindful of all the pains and sacrifices His Majesty is enduring to keep us safe.

Once again, let us all pledge to avoid engaging in non-essential activities and refrain from stepping out of the homes during free hours. If we at all need to come out, let us keep the visits short, and maintain all health standards. Only we can prevent the next lockdown!

Prime Minister’s Office – PMO, Bhutan