Bhutan has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 on Thursday night. A statement from the office of Prime Minister said the case was confirmed at 11pm on March 5 and result was validated at 12.30 am on March 6.
The patient is a 76-year-old from the United States of America, who had come to Bhutan as a tourist. He 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. He had indicated “negative” against all conditions. He did not have a sign of fever.
However, upon reaching Thimphu, he visited the medical OPD at JDWNRH, complaining of bloaty abdomen (dyspeptic symptoms) and nausea. The patient suffers from chronic hypertension and is on medication. However, even at that time, he did not have any flu symptoms.
The patient and his partner stayed at Le Meridien on the first night. The following day, he stayed indoor most of the time and went to the hospital again around 3.30pm for stomach upset and diarrhea.
The next day, he travelled to Punakha, with two stops on the way for tea and lunch. He had stayed at Densa Boutique Resort. That evening, he had walked until the Bazam next to Punakha Dzong, and returned to the room.
Yesterday, upon returning to Thimphu, he visited JDWNRH again. He was found to have fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath. He was kept under observation at the flu clinic (designated COVID-19 hospital) and samples were collected and sent to Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC).
Upon confirmation, he has been isolated in the COVID-19 hospital. Considering his age and underlying conditions, the patient is on oxygen support.
The government said they have traced over 90 contacts with the tourist. Statement read, health officials and other relevant agencies are in the process of carrying out primary disease management and contact tracing. It included people he associated with at all the points and stops along the way, starting from Paro airport to Thimphu, to Punakha and back. It included tea stops at Druk Wangyal Café, and lunch at Punakha High School park.
The close contacts were his partner, the driver and the guide.
Health ministry has asked the four crew members of the particular flight, and the hotel staff at both Le Meridien and Densa Boutique Resort to “home quarantine”.
Following the confirmation of first case, the government announced closure of schools and institutes in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha for two weeks with effect from March 6.
Parents are advised to closely monitor the health of the child. Should there be any concern, parents are asked to contact health officials.The government has also imposed two weeks restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect. All international conferences and seminars to be held in the country in the two weeks are also postponed.