Facilities put in place to protect vulnerable people

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Nima Wangdi

As the number of Covid-19 rises daily across the country, more than 300 vulnerable people, including their carers, have been moved to safety in Reverse Isolation Facilities (RIFs) across the country.

According to Kidu medical team leader Dr Phurb Dorji, this includes 178 sick people, 64 carers and 57 others who have no comorbidities but have other circumstances.

He said Thimphu has the most people taking advantage of the facility, followed by Bumthang. “Thimphu could not accommodate all who take advantage of the facility. They are now extended to Paro as well.

He said each dzongkhag has two reverse isolation facilities. “Since we don’t have the government structures ready for this, we use the hotels of the dzongkhags. Where there are no hotels, we use government guesthouses and gewog office space.

According to him, depending on the size of the population, some dzongkhags even have three to four facilities. There are around 1,650 beds in total according to Dr Phurb Dorji. He said some 57,000 people have registered with the facility so far.

Dr Lyonchhen Lotay Tshering said all services, if needed, ranging from feeding to cleaning up bodily fluids and waste will be provided.

But if family members still wish, they can stay with their elderly parents at the property. The de-suups plus who serve there are trained in first aid. “De-suups will cook, serve and clean.”

“In some countries, these services are only provided for businesses. Under His Majesty the King’s Kidu, it is provided here free of charge,” Lyonchhen said.

Dr Phurb Dorji said the length of their stay in the facilities will depend on the Covid-19 situation in the communities. “If the epidemic persists, people will have to stay longer.”

They also said the use of the reverse isolation facility is “purely voluntary”. “However, relatives cannot meet them or drop off food at the facility,” Dr Phurb Dorji said.

Lyonchhen said intermittent entry and exit from the facilities will not be accepted. “Those who do not wish to join the facilities but wish to benefit from other home services will also be provided.”

Reverse insulation

Lyonchhen said that in the past, in an effort to maintain zero Covid-19 in the community, those who tested positive and primary contacts were isolated. “Now that the concept of Zero Covid in the community has changed, through His Majesty the King’s Kidu, we are isolating the vulnerable population.”

The vulnerable population includes people with comorbidities, disabilities, ages 65 and older, and unvaccinated people.

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