More Covid-19 relaxations announced

The mandatory quarantine and testing for domestic travelers from high-risk areas are being withdrawn from now onwards

SONAM PENJOR | Thimphu

Since the last relaxation on March 26, the government announced further relaxation on Covid-19 which will come into effect from tomorrow.

The government said that despite the increase in the daily case, the severity and hospitalization are manageable. The health team and task forces at all levels are also working round the clock to monitor the situation.

“At this stage, we are considering some of the final relaxations of the Covid-19 restrictions imposed during the nation’s battle against the pandemic,” a statement from the PMO said.

With the next phase of Covid-19 relaxation, the press release states that the mandatory quarantine and testing for domestic travelers from high-risk areas are being withdrawn.

The high-risk areas include Thimphu, Wangduephodrang, Dukti chiwog under Yallang gewog and Jangphutse-Manam villages under Toedtsho gewog in Trashiyangtse, Merak and Sakteng gewogs in Tashigang and all bordering areas in southern Bhutan.

“They need not undergo home quarantine, either at the place of origin or destination. Individuals who have entered home quarantine on or before 3 April would be allowed to travel on the enforcement date,” it stated.

This major shift in policy comes after almost two years. The press release also states that this entailed huge inconvenience and sacrifices for all of us but helped sustained our efforts to detect and control the disease spread.

Similarly, for international travelers, the mandatory 14-day quarantine period is being brought down to five days of facility quarantine.

“Individuals who are already in quarantine and complete five days on 5 April would be allowed to exit based on the revised quarantine protocol,” the press release stated.

It further states that a close follow-up of the global trends, disease prevalence, and risk assessments will be ensured for timely intervention when required.

The sealing of “red” flats is being lifted. However, it states that those testing positive are advised to self-isolate at home. In case of severe symptoms, one is advised to go to the nearest flu clinic or health facility.

However, all meetings, seminars, and training are to be conducted virtually. The physical gathering is discouraged and the entertainment centers will remain closed until further notice.

Escort services for people traveling via India would be continuing until the international quarantine remains, states the press release. But for the convenience of our public, the frequency of escort services will be increased.

‘The testing requirement for all essential drivers will be discontinued but random testing will be conducted along with the bordering communities for the surveillance of new variants,” it said.

For people requiring both antigen and RT-PCR tests will be offered in health facilities and designated flu-clinics for individuals who are symptomatic.

Meanwhile, the PMO urged everyone to maintain caution as far as possible. “We reiterate that Omicron is milder in comparison to earlier variants, but this does not mean it is mild. Wearing masks, hand washing, and distancing from the gathering is preventive against all droplet-induced infectious diseases like common cold and pulmonary tuberculosis,” it said.

The statement states that hand washing is the best measure we can adopt for our family’s health. These are also the best antidote to skin, respiratory, and bowel infections.

Meanwhile, according to the PMO, the second dose of vaccination for children between 5 and 11 years will be rolled out in campaign mode on 4 April.

“Everyone, be it first, second or booster doses are urged to come forward to avail of the vaccines, which offer effective protection against Omicron variant.”