On March 6, 2020, the Office of the Prime Minister of Bhutan issued a press release to announce that around 23:00 on the previous night, the country's first positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed. The Government immediately prohibited the entry of international tourists for 14 days.
COVID-19 Update: Drukair has placed travel restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect for the next two weeks. The airline announced that it will continue to provide full refund affected by the COVID-19.
– Kuensel (@KuenselOnline) March 6, 2020
Update COVID-19: Drukair has imposed limitations on all incoming tourists with immediate effect for the next two weeks. The airline announced that it will continue to guarantee full reimbursement for those affected by COVID-19.
– After detection of 1st coronavirus case, Bhutan imposes a two-week restriction on all incoming tourists “with immediate effect”.
– All international conference & seminars postponed for next 2 weeks.
– Schools & institutes in Thimpu, Paro & Punakha closed for 2 weeks. # covid19
– Devirupa Mitra (@DevirupaM) March 6, 2020
After the detection of the first case of coronavirus, Bhutan imposes a two-week “immediate effect” restriction on all incoming tourists.
All international conferences and seminars are postponed for the next two weeks.
The schools and institutes in Thimpu, Paro and Punakha closed for two weeks. COVID19
First case of COVID-19
According to a press release published on the Facebook page of the Prime Minister's Office:
The patient is a 76-year-old from the United States of America, who had come to Bhutan as a tourist. I had entered the country from Paro International Airport, after embarking Drukair flight KB241 from Guwahati, India on March 2.
At the Paro International Airport, the patient’s health declaration form was assessed. I had indicated “negative” against all conditions. He did not have a sign of fever.
The patient is a 76-year-old American who came to Bhutan as a tourist. He entered the country through Paro International Airport, after embarking on Drukair KB241 flight from Guwahati, India on March 2.
At the Paro International Airport, the patient's health declaration form was evaluated. He had indicated “negative” to all conditions and showed no signs of fever.
On March 2, upon arriving in Thimpu, the patient visited the outpatient service of the National Referral Hospital (JDWRHN), the largest hospital in Bhutan, complaining of dyspeptic symptoms and nausea. He had no symptoms of the flu and was discharged with medication. The patient traveled to Punakha, Himalayan city about 85 km from Thimphu, and stayed in a boutique hotel.
On March 5, when he returned to Thimphu, he returned to the National Referral Hospital with flu-like symptoms and was admitted under observation. Their samples were collected and sent to the Royal Center for Disease Control (RCDC), which confirmed the infection with the new coronavirus. The patient's partner, the driver, the guide and the eight Indian passengers who accompanied him were quarantined with him.
The press release also mentioned that Bhutan adheres to the National Preparedness and Response Plan and that His Majesty King Jingme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk personally reviewed the responses and the implementation of the strategy. Earlier, the Government had mentioned being fully prepared to fight the pandemic.
So far, health officials have tracked about 90 patient contacts.
On March 6, the Government announced the closure of schools and institutes in the districts of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha for two weeks. All international conferences and seminars planned in the country are also postponed for the next 14 days.
Tshering Zang Mo, who comments in the Facebook post of the Office of the Prime Minister, warned that Bhutan may not have adequate facilities to cope with an outbreak of COVID-19:
The airport failed, the government failed and now the people will face the consequences. Bhutan doesn't have advanced medical facilities like in other countries, even the other countries are losing their people at a crazy rate despite having advanced facilities.
The airport failed, the government failed and now people will face the consequences. Bhutan does not have advanced medical facilities in other countries that, despite this, are also losing people at a crazy rate.
In another comment, Vick Cash Rai said:
Now the question here is, how many people have already been infected ???? Our government have been saying that they are well prepared, now let's see their preparation. Poor people of Bhutan will face the consequences because of the government's ignorance.
Now the question here is, how many people are already infected? Our Government has been saying that it was well prepared, now we will see its preparation. The poor people of Bhutan will face the consequences for the ignorance of the Government.
Sangay Thinley comments:
Hopefully, isolation and quarantine are well maintained… Doctors and health workers please don't be clumsy while treating them… I salute every health workers dealing the situation right now..stay safe.
Hopefully the isolation and quarantine is maintained! Doctors and healthcare workers, please don't be clumsy when treating them … I applaud all healthcare workers who are dealing with the situation right now … take care.
Yan Seen Gazmer commented:
Now our country's GNH is going to fall. We had been posting that both outsiders or Bhutanese Citizen should not become a reason for someone's death. Now, the time has arrived. We the public of Bhutan wrote that not to allow inflow of outsiders for a few months until the case of coronavirus gets settled down.
Now, we have to face anyway.
Now (the index) of Gross National Happiness is falling. We have been publishing that both foreigners and citizens of Bhutan should not become a reason for someone's death. The time has come. The citizens of Bhutan write that foreigners are not allowed in for a few months until the coronavirus case is resolved.
Now, we have to face anyway.
However, representatives of the private sector asked the Government how they could help and offered food and logistics during the quarantine.
The journalist Namgay Zam asked the Bhutanese to remain calm:
Best to remain calm at this point. Please don’t hoard hand sanitisers and masks. Our medical professionals and sick people need it more! 🙏🏼
And wash your hands frequently.
At this point, better keep calm. Please do not accumulate hand sanitizers and masks. Our healthcare professionals and patients need them more! 🙏🏼
And wash your hands often.
Review the Global Voices special coverage on the global impact of COVID-19