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Major toss in quarantine protocols

โ€ฆ Severity and hospitalization, are manageable

Phurpa Wangmo

From April 4, the government will ease the โ€˜strictest quarantine protocolsโ€™, the quarantine protocols that always exceeded the World Health Organizationโ€™s recommended quarantine period.

The change has been brought about for both domestic, and international travelers.

Many of the changes have come after observing the protocols for close to two years. The change also comes as the stance of the government to handle COVID-19 took a turnaround from zero COVID infections to living with it, and gradually transiting into the second phase of COVID-19 management.

Mandatory quarantine and testing for domestic travelers from high-risk areas will be withdrawn starting April 4. High-risk areas include Thimphu, Wangdue Phodrang, Dukti chiwog under Yallang gewog and Jangphutse-Manam villages under Toedtsho gewog in Trashiyangtse, Merak and Sakteng gewogs in Trashigang and all bordering areas in southern Bhutan.

Additionally, they need not undergo home quarantine, either at the place of origin or destination. However, individuals who have entered home quarantine today, or before April 3 will be allowed to travel on the enforcement date.

Meanwhile, random testing will be conducted along with the bordering communities for the surveillance of new variants.

The quarantine period for international travelers will be brought down to five days from 14-day quarantine. Individuals already in quarantine and completing five days on April 5 will be allowed to exit based on the revised quarantine protocol.

However, escort services for people traveling via India are to continue until the international quarantine remains. However, for convenience, the frequency of escort services will be increased.

Meanwhile, the government is also lifting the sealing of โ€˜red flatsโ€™. A release from Prime Ministerโ€™s Office advises individuals testing positive to self-isolate at home, in case of severe symptoms, they are advised to visit the nearest flu clinic, or call 1010.

According to the release, both antigen and RT-PCR tests will be available at health facilities and designated flu clinics for symptomatic individuals.

The release reiterates that Omicron is milder in comparison to earlier variants, however, this does not mean it is mild. The government continues to recommend non-pharmaceutical preventive measures to avoid contracting the virus including wearing masks, hand washing, and distancing from gathering as these are all preventive against all droplet-induced infectious diseases like common cold and pulmonary tuberculosis.

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

The release states that despite the increase in daily cases, the severity and hospitalization are manageable, and the health team and taskforces at all levels are working round the clock to monitor the situation.

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