News and information on COVID-19

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Press Release from Prime Minister's Office
March 27, 2020

As we strive to stay ahead of the spread of coronavirus, with His Majesty’s guidance, the government has introduced highest level of preventive measures all along. This includes recent closure of all border gates early this week.

Reinforced by an efficient containment system, the government is making efforts to come out of the pandemic with slightest of burden on the people of Bhutan.

Stepping up the arrangements, and acknowledging importance of minimising contacts among people as effective fight against COVID-19, the government puts forward following restraints to prevent the spread of the disease.

Relevant authorities and agencies are requested to act on the instructions with immediate effect.

Public gathering

  • Gatherings for religious purposes are discouraged, prompted by the fact that countries have experienced outbreaks from such events.
  • Gathering at any social events like birthday, wedding or promotion are disallowed.
  • Picnics or similar outdoor functions are prohibited.
  • All congregations at work, official dinners, functions or gatherings at workplace eateries are discouraged.
  • Individuals are required to maintain physical distance from the rest at grocery outlets, vegetable markets, fuel depots or other public places.
  • While in queue to avail of services like banking or hospital, individuals are required to maintain physical distance.

Travel

  • All non-essential and leisure travels within the country are restricted. Movements in groups, within the towns and communities are also discouraged.
  • Road Safety and Transport Authority is instructed to design and implement strategies for passengers using public transports to maintain physical distance.
  • Bhutanese travelling abroad must seek prior approval from Ministry of Foreign Affairs even before you start processing formalities for the travel.

Business and entertainment

  • All movie theatres, snooker rooms and video parlours should be closed.
  • All business entities must adjust timing and engage employees in a way that there is no crowding.
  • All business entities must ensure and make it conducive for their customers maintain physical distance.
  • While open-air shows are disallowed, television programs must be modified for participants to observe physical distance.

Games and sports

  • No games or sports that require physical contact like football and basketball are allowed.
  • Traditional games, including archery and khuru are prohibited in all communities.
  • Fitness centres like gym, yoga and meditation centres are urged to ensure minimum attendance at a given time for clients to observe adequate distance.

Civil service, corporate, private, and other agencies

  • Agencies will have to devise and institute “work from home” system.
  • Agencies are encouraged to use technology for meetings and correspondence of all kind.
  • In such emergencies, we have no doubt everyone has to shoulder immense workload. We are all expected to work beyond normal office hours. Here, we would like to state that as public servants, one should be guilt-ridden if you are not contributing or are not fully engaged in such times. Irrespective of where you are working from, you must come forward and make the most of your time.

Individual responsibilities in pursuing these actions are highly appreciated and would have lasting impact on government’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country as well as beyond. However, given the fact that we have no room for complacency at this time, those who don’t abide by the instructions will be dealt with strong legal action.

The government will monitor and update the instructions in keeping with evolving situations on the ground.

Source: Prime Minister's Office


HIS MAJESTY ADDRESSES THE NATION ON COVID-19

English translation of His Majesty the King's address

Starting today, our land borders will be sealed.

We are compelled to take this drastic measure in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. As you have been made aware through various government bulletins, the virus is spreading, causing immense disruption worldwide, and drawing closer to us each day. 

At such a time, the health and safety of the people of Bhutan is of the greatest priority, and as such, we are putting in place every measure necessary to safeguard the people of Bhutan.

Should those of you who are abroad at this time wish to return home, the government will help you. I ask those of you who are studying or working abroad, not to worry. 

Covid-19 will cause great disruptions to the global economy, and Bhutan will not be an exception. The economic repercussions will not just impact a select few sectors, but each and every one of us. At such a time, we must exhibit the strength that comes out of our smallness, remain united and support one another. During such exceptional circumstances, the government will take the responsibility of alleviating any suffering to the people due to the virus. 

As you know, all schools have been closed as a preventive measure, and children are at home instead of in their classes. We do not know when the situation will improve and schools can be reopened. Parents must guide their children, and children must take it upon themselves to use this opportunity to continue studying- at your age, education should be your most important concern. Do not waste time.

On the part of the government, there are already plans to make learning materials as widely available to students as possible. Internet providers, television, and even newspapers, have been tasked to bring learning materials to you. Therefore, it is your responsibility to take advantage of the avenues that will be made available to you. 

According to experts, the elderly population is at the greatest risk from Covid-19. We must take care of our elderly, protect them, and ensure that their environment is safe and clean. 

As a small country with a small population, we can overcome any challenge we are faced with, if the people and the government work together.

It is important, however, to not lose sight of our national objectives, and aim to bring normalcy as soon as possible so that when this pandemic is behind us, we can continue to work on making our future better and stronger. 

In the meantime, we will continue to work ceaselessly through this challenging situation.

Source: Kuensel


LESSONS FROM BHUTAN'S RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Prime Minister of Bhutan distributing free hand sanitizer in Thimphu Photo: PMO

As the situation around COVID-19 develops around the world, we’re seeing story after story of growing challenges and the heroic people in our health sectors who are rising to meet those challenges. We at the Bhutan Foundation wanted to take a moment to recognize the speed, compassion, and consideration that His Majesty the King and Bhutan’s leaders in the government, including the Prime Minister and the Health Minister, took to address the public when the virus made its way across the border this March and to offer our own ways to stay engaged during this uncertain time.

Read full letter from our Executive Director



March 28, 2020
Learning along with the crisis.

With fear and anxiety over ruling everyone around the world due to the COVID-19, the Ministry of Health taking one step ahead, has now formed the COVID-19 Mental Health Team for the wellbeing of all the vulnerable Bhutanese.

The team consists of trained clinical counsellors from the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan and Psychiatrist from JDWNRH. The Risk communication team together with the Mental Health team will be working on a package of materials which will be rolled out to all the 20 Dzongkhags for the benefit of the public.


March 28, 2020
National situational update by the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan:


Update on sample test as of March 27, 2020 by the Ministry of Health:



Read full news on Kuensel and BBS website


March 27, 2020: Situational update from the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan


March 26, 2020: Update on COVID-19 tests conducted:


March 26, 2020: Press briefing


In a move to advocate physical/social distancing, journalists are sat a meter apart at the ongoing press brief on COVID-19.

Today’s press brief is primarily to update the media and the nation on the third COVID-19 positive case.

Hon'ble Health Minister informed the media that the student (who recently returned from Europe) was under facility quarantine ever-since her arrival and has now been moved to the isolation room and is in stable condition.

Her Excellency also informed the media that all 31 primary contacts of the student have been tracked down and placed under facility quarantine.

With adequate quarantine facilities well identified and equipped, and all incoming Bhutanese put under facility quarantine immediately upon entering the country, Hon. Lyonpo reiterated that Bhutan is a few steps ahead of the pandemic and that we should all collectively be proud of our efforts and achievement.

In view of our collective proactiveness in dealing with COVID-19, Her Excellency informed the media that Bhutan’s response to the Pandemic can be classified as ‘Gold Standard’.


March 26, 2020: Situational update from the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan


March 25, 2020: Update from the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan:

One positive case today from the quarantined lot. More information will be shared during the press brief tomorrow.



March 25, 2020: National situational update from the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan:



March 24, 2020:

Source: Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan




March 24, 2020: National situational update from the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan:


March 23, 2020: Update from Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan.


March 23, 2020

No more home quarantine from today

Starting today, Bhutanese returning from abroad will not be given the home-quarantine alternative except patients. According to the Health Minister, some people in home-quarantine are found loitering and interacting with other people.

Lyonpo said those in home-quarantine not adhering to the quarantine rules will be dealt according to the Penal Code of Bhutan henceforth. Read full news...


March 23, 2020

Message from Foreign Minister to all Bhutanese living abroad

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is now affecting the whole world. Many countries and territories have taken sudden and extraordinary measures like lockdowns, curfews and travel bans to prevent the spread of the contagion. Such measures have and will affect Bhutanese living abroad, such as difficulty in flying back to Bhutan among many other inconveniences. Read full message...



March 22, 2020

Bhutan closes its international borders

Starting 6am tomorrow (March 23, 2020), Royal Government of Bhutan will close all international borders.

1. No movement of vehicles across the borders except the authorized.

2. No Bhutanese shall be allowed to travel out of the country.

3. All incoming Bhutanese will be quarantined.

4. Exit will be allowed for non-Bhutanese.

5. Incoming non-Bhutanese will be scrutinized and quarantined where applicable.

6. Absolutely no movement of vehicles or people across informal routes.

7. The government will ensure the continued supply of all commodities.

– Prime Minister's Office



March 20, 2020

Press Release

Partner Tests Positive

The partner of the first COVID-19 case in the country has tested positive this morning. Prime Minister informed the public at the press briefing.

The test was carried out as part of the quarantine process where everybody gets checked to determine the status before the release. The three primary contacts- the partner, guide and driver, finish their quarantine period today. Read full press release...


March 20, 2020

Royal Education Council launches Education in Emergency curriculum

The Education in Emergency (EiE) curriculum guidelines have been specifically designed for schools and teachers to keep students engaged meaningfully and continue their education. The EiE curriculum is one that has carefully identified the most critical learning areas, themes and topics to be taught through various appropriate remote means given the limited time and space during an emergency, particilarly COVID-19 situation. It is recommended that schools explore various ways to deliver the recommended syllabi. We are working with MOE, BBS and volunteer teachers to record lessons based on this prioritised curriculum. We have agreed on a plan of BBS broadcasting the recorded video lessons from March 25, 2020.


March 19, 2020
A Prince is Born

Just as the burst of blooms all around, and speckles of assorted petals around Lingkana Palace in Thimphu, spring peaks to a zenith today.

A special blessing has come our way, in the form of the second royal baby. The much anticipated wait, ever since His Majesty The King shared the news with the nation last December, is over as we hear the gratifying news this afternoon. Read full post...


March 18, 2020:

We would like to reiterate that the restriction imposed on incoming tourists will be sustained until further notice.

Two weeks restriction, which ends tomorrow, was decided upon after the detection of first case on March 5. While the situation back home is under control, the global trend of coronavirus is not encouraging for us to lift the ban.
– Prime Minister's Office, Bhutan


March 17, 2020:

All schools and educational institutes across the country will remain closed starting tomorrow (March 18), until further order from the government. Read more...
– Prime Minister's Office, Bhutan


March 14, 2020

Thank you to the people of Bhutan and our health heroes

Past midnight, I called US to check on our patient, the COVID-19 case, and was told the flight just landed. Around 2am, I received an email from his daughter, stating that his condition was stable and doing very well.

It was a huge relief. Knowing all the travels and complications involved to ferry a patient from one end of the globe to the other, around this time, I was unsettled until the flight touched base.

It is even more gratifying to learn that our dear friend of Bhutan, who came all the way to visit us, is with his family and personal physicians. There cannot be a better treatment than this.

The email specifically mentions her gratitude to His Majesty The King for all the care bestowed upon her father. Read full update from Hon'ble Prime Minister.


March 9, 2020

Press Release

The government has started working on comprehensive response plan, should the consequences of coronavirus in the country stretch for longer period.

While the health ministry continues with response efforts, following detection of first COVID-19 case on March 5, different agencies have been encouraged to prepare and strategise interventions, both immediate and long term. Read full press release...


March 7, 2020:

Update: The government would like to inform that all schools in Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag and Phuentsholing Thromde will remain closed from March 9 to 15.

This is in keeping the consultations and feedback from the ground, as government continues to closely monitor and prevent the risks of COVID-19.

– Prime Minister's Office, Bhutan


https://www.facebook.com/Kuensel/videos/506975429983673/


March 7, 2020

Day one with COVID-19

Our people woke up to fear and alarm, as official communications went out about the first corona virus case in the country early yesterday. The rest of the day tested our endurance, emotions and spirit while trying to overcome the trouble in front of us.

Looking back, this one day unfurled a lot of learning for ourselves, as a nation and as a Bhutanese.

His Majesty The King’s presence at the control base, the Ministry of Health, gave us confidence to translate our preparedness plans into actions. Read full post


March 6, 2020:

Update: The partner of the 76-year-old patient who became the first confirmed coronavirus case in the country today, the travel guide and the driver all tested negative.

They were among the first batch of 18 suspects, all showing negative, according to the results Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC) released a while ago.


Press Release

March 6, 2020

First confirmed COVID-19 case in Bhutan

We would like to inform the general public that one positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed at 11pm on March 5. The result was validated at 12.30 am today.

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.

Adhering to the National Preparedness and Response Plan, and the operating procedures in place, all follow-up actions were initiated immediately. His Majesty The King personally oversaw implementation of the response strategy, as teams operated from Ministry of Health all through the night. Read full press release.

WAYS TO STAY CONNECTED DURING SELF-ISOLATION

We know things are rough right now, but you’re not alone. You can stay in contact with the Bhutan Foundation team in DC and Thimphu for more information as the situation develops, by emailing us directly, or by joining our new Facebook Discussion Group to share stories, books, and movie recommendations during this period of self-isolation.

Video Resources

The Cup

Travellers and Magicians

Made in Bhutan

Amrith: A story of his inner vision

School Among Glaciers - Bhutan

Special: A Bhutanese documentary on people living with disabilities

Featured books for children

As for the kids in your family who may be stuck at home away from school, we're also releasing our Snow Leopard Readers as free ebooks! The books available in both English and Dzongkha, is part of our Snow Leopard Conservation Education Program for schools in rural areas of Bhutan to teach lessons on Bhutanese values in conservation. The stories were written by Bhutanese teachers and illustrated by local artists with support from the Royal Education Council.
You can click the link below to download a free copy of this children's book until April 22, 2020.

English:


Dzongkha: