Measures in place to combat possible corona virus outbreak: MoH

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With the corona-virus scare in the region, the Ministry of Health has put up a contingency plan in place to cope up with the disease by setting up isolation rooms in Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), the Old Mother and Child Health Unit and Gidagom hospital.

The authorities concerned have assured that they are taking every possible precaution and are ready to cope up with the disease. The government said it is doing all it takes to be prepared for the upcoming disease.

On February 2, the Health Minister Dechen Wangmo in a press conference said that they have identified health facilities and response teams for an outbreak in the country. “There are sets of health care staff being added.”

The Health Minister said that in case there is an outbreak of disease in the country, the people should not panic, instead the information and awareness program that the Ministry of Health circulated should be taken seriously.

On February 4, the Prime Minister, Dr. Lotay Tshering said in the National Assembly that in Thimphu, the authorities have identified 25 beds in the old Mother and Child Care building. “In Paro and Phuentsholing, we have asked the hospital to keep six to 10 beds empty. If the case becomes worst, we will empty Gidakom hospital and transfer the patients suffering from corona-virus to the hospital.”

PM added Gidagom Hospital would be converted into a 100-isolation bed with support from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The next day, a second briefing was held on the 2019-novel corona-virus at the health minister’s chamber.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that there is a lot of miscommunication in the society about the disease. “We have had many calls asking whether the Ministry is prepared and is the ministry buying a vaccine for it? We want to inform the people that the vaccine is not developed at the moment.”

Health Minister said MoH is receiving a lot of questions regarding the treatment of 2019-nCov.

Lyonpo added that there is no specific medicine for the pandemic and if one looks at the signs and symptoms, it is similar to flu fatalities arise from severe pneumonia. “I also would like to inform everyone that in terms of worst-case scenario everyone must pray every day that it will not come to our country.”

The Health Minister also said that the ministry is well prepared and confident. “We have identified hospitals and the patients will be airlifted to JDWNRH from different parts of the country. If the case becomes worse we will use Gidakom hospital as backup and we feel that we are quite confident that we are prepared if it comes to Bhutan.”  

Health minister also added that they will coordinate weekly press conference every Wednesday to update on the national and global situation on 2019-nCOv.

During the 17th Sitting, 3rd Session, Third Parliament held yesterday, Namgay Tshering, the Finance Minister said, “An allowance is given to teams of veterinary hospitals around the country since the staff are at risk of getting the diseases through handling animals.”

The minister added the veterinary doctors and staffs have been carrying out services to prevent the spread of diseases like SARS, HIN5, HIN7 and the most common outbreak like Corona-virus.

Sonam Tashi from Thimphu

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