New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) The Union Ministry of Health and family Welfare on Friday said that the contacts trail of Bhutan’s first COVID-19 case has been traced and required follow up has been initiated as per protocol.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering announced on Friday that the first positive coronavirus case was confirmed in the country and the patient was a US tourist who arrived in Bhutan via Guwahati, Assam.
“We would like to inform the public that one positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed at 11 p.m. on March 5, and the result was validated at 12.30 a.m. on March 6,” Tshering said on Twitter and Facebook.
The 76-year-old patient arrived in Bhutan on Monday.
According to Bhutan’s health ministry, the patient was on a tour of India from February 21 to March 1. He started his travel from Washington on February 18.
He was travelling with his partner, who is aged 59, and there were 10 passengers on board at the time he arrived in Bhutan, of which eight were Indian nationals.
He was checked at the airport but found negative against all symptoms.
However, on reaching Thimphu, he visited a hospital at 3 p.m. and complained of bloaty abdomen (dyspeptic symptoms) and nausea. The patient suffered from chronic hypertension.
After spending a night in Thimphu, he travelled to Punakha with his partner and made several stops. He then returned to Thimphu on Thursday where he again visited the hospital and he was found to have a fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath, the Health Ministry said.
He was kept under observation at the flu clinic (designated as COVID-19 hospital) and samples were collected and sent to the Royal Center for Disease Control (RCDC), the Prime Minister said.
“On confirmation, he has been isolated in the COVID-19 hopital. Considering his age and underlying conditions, the patient is on oxygen support.”
“Following the confirmation over 90 contacts have been traced. Health officials and other relevant agencies are in the process of carrying out primary disease management and contact tracing,” the Prime Minister added.
Schools and institutions in three districts of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha where the patient visited have been closed for three weeks.
In India there are at least 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including previous three from Kerala who have now recovered. The Indian government has mandated universal screening of all passengers entering India from all parts of the world. As of Friday, a total of 6.5 lakh passengers were screened at 30 Indian airports.
India’s Health Ministry said “The government of India started taking measures including screening much before than the World Health Organisation termed the outbreak as Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).”