Five-day quarantine lifted for all incoming travellers

All incoming travellers opting to stay in hotel for the mandatory observation period of 24 hours and self-isolation, if tested positive, must bear their own expenses.”

SONAM PENJOR

Thimphu

The government announced the lifting of the five-day mandatory facility quarantine for all incoming travellers from 4 July. However, a new arrangement of “Test-and-Go” system has been instituted.

A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) states that a mandatory stay-home or hotel quarantine for 24 hours, or until a negative RT-PCR result is obtained has been instituted. Further, those staying in the home or hotel will be strictly monitored.

“While we acknowledge the implications and inconveniences the arrangement has caused to the travellers so far, it was intended to reinforce and protect our country and communities from Covid-19, which is still in the pandemic stage,” stated the press release.

Since the transition into Phase-II, the press release states that the government has continuously seen a low positivity rate (1.46 percent) and promising trends of zero fatalities and hospitalisations until date.

Upon arrival at the point of entry, while the RT-PCR test sample will be collected, it said that a proof of vaccination certificate or evidence of Covid-19 infection in the six months before the visit will have to be furnished. Anyone testing positive will be required to self-isolate for five days at home or in a hotel.

According to the notification from the National Covid-19 Task Force, “All incoming travellers opting to stay in hotel for the mandatory observation period of 24 hours and self-isolation, if tested positive, must bear their own expenses.”

Besides Paro, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrupjongkar, the test results at other points of entry may take more than 24 hours due to the non-availability of the RT-PCR testing facility.

“Those already undergoing the five-day quarantine and who have tested negative are allowed to end their quarantine as per the “Test-and-Go” protocol from 4 July,” the press release stated.

Further, as we cautiously move forward, vaccination and booster will be a critical tool in our collective effort to end the pandemic. This, according to the PMO is a significant milestone in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

It further states, “From the non-compromising 21-day to 14-day to five-day quarantine system, and now being able to do away with it completely is a feat we have all achieved together. It has served the purpose of securing the nation from the disease and its multiple variants.”

Meanwhile, the rationale behind the test and go, according to the press release, is that the current global outbreak is caused by the Omicron variant which is known to have high transmissibility but mild disease and transition from phase-II. In addition, there has been sustained low positivity rate and promising trends of zero fatalities and hospitalization among others.

Besides, it also justified that since there is high advocacy, preparedness and confidence amongst the general public and health workers with experiences gained from the ongoing local outbreak and the level of protection provided by the high national vaccination coverage.

This “Test-and-Go”, states that all incoming travellers are eligible for test and go system with a mandatory observation of 24 hours in a hotel or home until the RT-PCR test result is declared.

However, all incoming travellers should have arrangements to travel in private cars to their respective destinations. Incoming travellers’ private cars will be labelled with stickers by the authority to facilitate travels without having to stop on the way and incoming travellers will only be allowed to travel to a destination that does not entail a night halt.

While in the mandatory observations, an individual must strictly observe the 24 hours observations until the declaration of the RT-PCR test result and should not be allowed to leave home or meet anyone except during health conditions requiring medical intervention amongst others.

In the event of “Test-and-Go”, an individual, if tested positive on the RT-PCR, will be required to home isolate for five days from the day of the test including the family or the household members and will complete the home isolation at the end of the five days without testing.