Stringent lockdown if Covid-19 hospitals are overwhelmed

Prime Minister Dasho Dr. Lotay Tshering speaks at the virtual press conference 

Second phase will focus on early management of symptomatic positive cases and isolation of severe positive cases for clinical management

LHAKPA TSHERING | Thimphu

While the government has prepared a paradigm shift in the management of cases for the second phase focusing to prevent severity and hospitalization, there would be a stringent lockdown if the Covid-19 hospitals’ bed occupancy exceeds the set limits.

There are about 1,000 isolation beds in the five dedicated Covid-19 hospitals at the national and regional levels. The routine hospitals have also a backup of over 1,200 beds spread across the country.

Prime Minister Dasho Dr. Lotay Tshering said while the new public health interventions will try to avoid restrictions, the only alternative in case of hospitals struggling to find beds for the Covid-19 patients is to impose stringent lockdown to break the circuit of the infection.

“That’s why we are easing the current lockdown restrictions in a staggered manner as unlocking in one go may trigger a surge in case,” he said, adding that this can help for effective case management.

He explained that a worst-case scenario would be only when the hospitals become overwhelmed with the Covid-19 patients. “If this is not the case, there will be no lockdowns at all as omicron is less severe than delta,” he said.

“The worst-case scenario in the delta variant would have caused more deaths with Covid-19 if we could not control the community cases. We imposed lockdowns whenever cases emerged from the community,” Lyonchhen said.

He said that the second phase will focus on early management of symptomatic positive cases and isolation of severe positive cases for clinical management. “It is to prevent death from Covid-19 that could be prevented through prevention measures with a focus on vulnerable and high-risk groups. It is not to eliminate the disease,” he said.

Lyonchhen added that while it is certain the cases will increase with full relaxations, schools will be reopened if there are not many Covid-19 patients requiring hospital admission.

“For instance, offices in Phuentsholing have been reopened despite some daily cases from the community. The lockdown helped to minimize the cases and there have not been many cases requiring hospitalization,” Lyonchhen said.

“We are also analyzing the situation if there would be a huge surge in Covid-19 cases with the reopening of offices. But looking at the past situations, it gives some assurance this may not happen,” he added.

In addition, an unbroken chain of oxygen distribution circuits around the country have been initiated and will be maintained throughout. The government will also make oxygen available for homes through the monitoring mechanism depending on requirements.

Lyonchhen said there has been a dedicated team of doctors who monitor patients who are treated at their homes. “Although cases from the community continue to emerge, only a few cases require admission to the hospitals,” the Prime Minister said.