US tourist confirmed as 1st Coronavirus case in Bhutan

Thimphu, March 6, 2020 –

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering announced on Friday that one positive coronavirus case has been confirmed in the country and the patient is a US tourist who arrived here via Guwahati, Assam.

“We would like to inform the public that one positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed at 11 p.m. on March 5, and the result was validated at 12.30 a.m. on March 6,” Xinhua news agency quoted Tshering as saying.

The 76-year old patient arrived in the Bhutan on Monday.

According to the Health Ministry of Bhutan, the patient was on a tour of India from February 21 to March 1. He started his travel from Washington D.C. on February 18.

He was travelling with his partner, who is aged 59, and there were 10 passengers on board at the time he arrived in Bhutan, of which eight were Indian nationals.

He was checked at the airport but found negative against all conditions.

However, on reaching Thimphu, he visited a hospital at 3 p.m. and complained of bloaty abdomen (dyspeptic symptoms) and nausea. The patient suffered from chronic hypertension.

After spending a night in Thimphu, he travelled to Punakha with his partner and made several stops. He then returned to Thimphu on Thursday where he again visited the hospital and he was found to have fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath, the Health Ministry said.

He was kept under observation at the flu clinic (designated as COVID-19 hospital) and samples were collected and sent to the Royal Center for Disease Control (RCDC), the Prime Minister said.

“On confirmation, he has been isolated in the COVID-19 hopital. Considering his age and underlying conditions, the patient is on oxygen support.”

“Following the confirmation over 90 contacts have been traced. Health officials and other relevant agencies are in the process of carrying out primary disease management and contact tracing,” the Prime Minister added.

Schools and institutions in three districts of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha where the patient visited have been closed for three weeks. (Agency)

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