Paro United Women’s FC and Phuentsholing United FC settled for a 1-1 draw in the ongoing Bhutan Women’s National Football Championship yesterday at the Ugyen Academy’s ground in Punakha.
This is the first major women football tournament amid Covid-19 pandemic.
Paro United’s mid-fielder Dechen scored in the first half of the game which ended 1-0. However, the opponent equalised in 61st minute through Kezang Cheki from the spot.
Paro United’s had a better chance to win the game as the club enjoyed seven shots with 10 corner kick opportunities. Phuentsholing could manage only one shot and one corner kick.
Eight matches have been played as of yesterday.
Organised by Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), Bhutan Women’s National Football Championship is the highest professional football competition among women clubs from different dzongkhags.
Ten teams from eight dzongkhags- Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, and Chukha, are competing at the centralised venue at the Ugyen Academy’s ground in Punakha.
BFF’s Competition Officer, Kinley Dorji said that the teams from Trashigang and Samtse couldn’t participate in the championship. “Due to this, BFF had to adjust two teams each from Thimphu and Paro. We are keeping the players in hotels.”
He said that BFF was conducting the tournament with strict compliance to health protocols. Spectators are not at the 21-days league-cum- knockout tournament.
Wangdue Women’s FC will face Pemagatshel Women’s FC today.
Chubachu area in Thimphu and Phenteykha village under Toepisa gewog, Punakha have been declared Red Zones following the detection of Covid-19 cases.
Fifteen positive cases were detected from the Chubachu area that includes close contacts and family members of the 25-year-old index case.
Of the 37 samples tested in Punakha, two were positive. Also, three people have tested positive from the Bhutan Telecom Ltd in Thimphu where over 269 were tested. One of the drivers, who was a primary contact of the 25-year-old woman, tested positive the previous day on December 20.
Health Minister Dechen Wangmo during a live address last night said that given the epicentre of the outbreak (Chubachu area) being centre of the town and associated with a high frequency of movement, Thimphu, for now, was a highly risky area.
Lyonpo said that around 800 close contacts of the 20 cases were traced from the locality and would be tested beginning today. Some of these contacts had reached other dzongkhags including Haa, Punakha, Wangdue, Trongsa, Samtse, and Sarpang.
Because some students have also tested positive earlier, Lyonpo said that schools would be screened and individuals will be tested once again. The results were expected to come out late last night.
As of yesterday around 160 students were tested. There were no positive cases from the group.
On declaring entire Thimphu as a Red Zone, the minister said that the close contacts of the positive cases were still being traced and tested. Based on the test results, Lyonpo said that areas would be demarcated in line with their risk status into red, yellow and green zones.
Earlier, based on the risk assessment criteria of the health ministry, Thimphu was found to be highly vulnerable for a local outbreak as it was associated with very high population density and mobility of people.
The ministry has also identified over 5,000 elderly and close to 3,000 people with pre-existing medical conditions in the capital. The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 is known to affect more people in these categories.
“This is why we are all worried,” the minister said. “We urge everyone to take individual responsibility and sincerely follow the lockdown protocol and public health guidelines.”
She said that to effectively contain and break the chain of transmission, it would depend on the manner in which the lockdown protocol is followed by the public.
Lyonpo said that because most of the infected individuals were in an acute phase of transmission, meaning early stage of infection, if the lockdown was properly followed, the spread could be contained.
Meanwhile, despite the lockdown in the capital, Lyonpo said that the national referral hospital would continue to provide essential medical services including vaccination for children and other MCH services.
However, the public is requested to make appointments with the concerned doctors to avoid crowding at the hospital.
The silver lining of the lockdown is that the 25-year-old, who tested positive to Covid-19, had followed the health ministry’s safety protocol: used facemask, and Druk Trace mobile application.
The application made tracing those who came in contact with the woman quicker and easier, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said.
More than 150 of her contracts were traced through the Druk Trace application as of yesterday evening. The ministry traced around 1,700 people altogether which also enhanced testing and placing necessary contacts in quarantine.
The woman and seven of her primary contacts picked the virus around 12 days ago. However, Lyonchhen said that since the woman used face mask diligently she couldn’t have infected many.
In the face of a looming national lockdown, using the preventive measures was the best defence against the pandemic in absence of a vaccine, lyonchhen said.
“The lockdown for now is in Thimphu but residents across the country should be concerned and not endanger themselves,” Lyonchhen said.
While travel out of the capital is prohibited until tomorrow, those from other dzongkhags should travel to Thimphu under extremely urgent conditions.
Almost 38,000 people have travelled to other parts of the country in the past fortnight, so the infection might have spread too.
Lyonchhen said that those in Thimphu with flu-like symptoms should visit the flu-clinics placed across the city. “Thimphu is under complete lockdown but those visiting the flu clinics will be allowed to move,” Lyonchhen said.
Those who have travelled from Thimphu to other dzongkhags on or after December 7 are asked to report to the nearest flu clinic to get tested for Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health and Media Council of Bhutan is asking the public not to circulate fake news since it creates unnecessary panic among the public.
“This is a very critical time where we seek solidarity and support from all,” the ministry appealed to citizens on its official Facebook page.
The Council stated that circulating fake news including images is an offence under the Information, Communications, and Media Act 2018 and threatened prosecution against violators.
Yangchen C Rinzin
No one would be allowed to travel out of Thimphu in next 48 hours. The second lockdown in the capital was declared in the early hours yesterday.
Based on the emergencies, however, people can come to Thimphu from other dzongkhags.
Thimphu Thromde and super zones, which includes Thimphu Throm and peripheral areas of Debsi, RTC area, Gangchey, Nyezergang in the south, Kabesa, Begana and Changtagang in the north have been put under lockdown.
A 25-year-old female, who visited the flu clinic at national referral hospital tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday.
Lyonchhen, during the press brief, advised people not to travel if not necessary.
“We have restricted movement outside Thimphu because the outbreak of Covid-19 positive case is from here,” Lyonchhen said.
All offices, institutions, schools, shops, and business entities in Thimphu Thromde and super zones will remain closed until further notice.
The delivery of essentials and zone wise relaxation will be initiated in the next 48 hours depending on the degree of transmission.
Lyonchhen had asked the people to stay indoors at least for next 48 hours. “We’ll keep informing the nation through various social media platforms and mainstream media.”
He said that people outside Thimphu should be vigilant and avoid travelling unnecessarily.
More than 38,000 people had travelled from Thimphu to other dzongkhags since December 7.
Lyonchhen said that the lockdown would enable health officials to trace and test all possible contacts in the next two days and would help determine the degree of transmission.
He reminded people to be careful and advised not to travel or celebrate any festivals in large groups.
Meanwhile, education ministry has advised all schools to remain closed until further notice.
Thimphu dzongkhag administration (TDA) has advised two schools, Wangbama Central School and Yangchengatshel Middle Secondary School to operate as a self-containment zone.
Dzongkhag official has advised teachers of these two schools residing in Thimphu Thromde not to travel to school until it is safe to move out of Thimphu. “We will test teachers before sending them back to school.”
TDA has asked Khasadrapchu Middle Secondary School to close because 17 teachers and five students reside in Thimphu thromde.
After one of the students of a Thimphu public school tested positive, who was a primary contact of the index case, 29 classmates, friends and teachers were also tested for Covi-19. Results have come out negative.
Call toll-free number 1010 for any question related to lockdown and Covid-19.
Yangchen C Rinzin
Bhutanese people in general spent about 48 percent of their day on personal care and maintenance, according to the Valuing Unpaid Care Work in Bhutan 2020 report.
The personal care includes sleeping, eating, physical fitness, hygiene, health care, resting and relaxing, and travel related to personal care.
The report, which is also an Asian Development Bank’s economic working paper series, showed that both men and women devoted almost same time to personal care and maintenance — 11 hours in a day.
Men devoted more time to paid work and women more to unpaid work.
It was found that on an average men had spent 85 minutes more on paid work per day compared with women who spent around 2 hours, 11 minutes more on unpaid work, which included both housework and caregiving services.
Unpaid care work is increasingly being recognised as critical for sustaining people’s daily lives, yet it remains invisible to many policy makers, economists, and national statisticians. As yet, it is excluded from conventional national income accounts.
The report showed that men also spent 16 minutes more than women on leisure activities and 18 minutes more on community services. Women spent around 15 percent of their time during a typical day on housework and caregiving, whereas men spent only around six percent of their time on these activities.
Unpaid work, according to the report, falls outside conventional definitions of what counts as work and is unaccounted for in the national accounting system. This is because unpaid care work largely consists of activities like cooking, cleaning, caring for children, the sick, and the elderly.
It is an important aspect of economic activity and the burden of unpaid care work is particularly borne by the women that underlie gender inequality.
Unpaid care work is still viewed as the natural duty of women.
More than 95 percent of women participated in household maintenance and management; only 61 percent of men did so. In terms of unpaid caregiving services, the participation rate for women was almost three times higher than that for men.
“This indicates that household maintenance and management, and the provision of unpaid caregiving services to household members, were predominantly performed by women,” report stated.
Women spent more than twice the amount of time spent by men on all unpaid housework and care giving. Men spent more on the travel related to household maintenance and management. For instance, while 91 percent of women participated in cooking, only 43 percent of men did.
“This means women spent at least some time during the day cooking. Three time as many women as men devoted some time to dishwashing, cleaning and upkeep of the household, laundry, and caring for children,” the report concludes.
Women residing in urban areas devoted 23 more minutes per day on unpaid housework and nine minutes more per day on unpaid caregiving services than the rural women.
“This could be because rural women devote more time to informal agricultural and related activities to supplement the family income,” the report stated.
The report also found that time devoted to unpaid caregiving grew larger for both men and women as household size increased. Women in all age groups devoted more than twice the amount of time to unpaid work than even men aged 75 years and above.
The report revealed that unpaid care work in Bhutan had a total of annual value of Nu 23.51 billion, equivalent to 16 percent of GDP. Women generated over two-thirds of the estimated monetary value of unpaid work.
Most of the data presented in this paper were from 2015.
“This was a deliberate choice, as that was the year of the most recent GNH Survey Report and for better comparability,” the report.
ADB recommended to maintain consistency of employment categories across years, measure within the family unit and inequality in the time spent on unpaid care, among others, to improve the measurement of unpaid care work in Bhutan.
The second lockdown is a serious lesson. We have not been good learners.
In the times of a pandemic, lockdown can happen anytime. This has been the advice from the prime minister since the first lockdown in March of this year. Health Minister Dechen Wangmo has been reiterating the message in all the press briefings so far.
When Covid-19 positive cases were discovered yesterday in Thimphu and the subsequent lockdown after that, our people were still not prepared. Many had to run and do the last-minute shopping.
And the worse is that rumours continue to spread. These are dangerous developments in a time when the nation and people need calm and comfort the most.
There is a clear message from the Prime Minister. For the first three days at least, the people should refrain from moving around. Stay put at home because tracing and testing must be done to ensure that the virus does not spread in a way that can overwhelm all our efforts.
In our case community spread of the pandemic can be very expensive.
If the people do not abide by the rules, make it a criminal case. There is a need for a more stringent measure.
When the Kuensel comes to your door or your email the first hour today, more than 1,700 Covid-19 tests will have been carried out. There is a good chance that we will find more than eight Covid-19 positive cases.
That will mean that lockdown could extend beyond a week, even two.
Fear and panic are unnecessary. This is the time when we need to be calm and composed. In a close-knit society like ours, help comes from neighbours and relatives still. What we need is respect for rules and protocols. We can do that because things are being arranged with thousands of DeSuups and officials on duty.
Food and essential items will be delivered. We have a better service delivery system now than we had when we experienced the first lockdown. The thing is we should not be overly demanding because providing timely services to more than 100,000 people can be challenging.
Go for test if you think you could have been exposed to the virus. The quicker you can do this, the better, not just for yourself, but also for the whole country.
In the meanwhile, people should not run out of essential items. This is the job of the service providers that have been empowered with committees, mandates and recognitions.
With Thimphu under lockdown, officials of all 19 dzongkhags are conducting Covid-19 tests for all people who travelled to the dzongkhag from Thimphu in the last few days.
Dzongkhag officials are also contact tracing and Covid-19 tests are conducted for primary and secondary contacts of the 25-year-old woman, who tested positive on the night of December 19.
Punakha and Wangdue
Eight people in the two dzongkhags have been quarantined.
Twenty-nine samples of individuals from Toepisa gewog, who came in contact with the primary contact, have been sent to Thimphu. They would know the results today.
Six individuals from the same gewog have been quarantined.
According to a health official in Punakha, the six were quarantined because they were at a higher risk as they came in contact with the person who tested positive.
Kuensel learned that the person had visited his village, Phenteykha in Toepisa gewog, for the annual Phentey-Namto ritual. Phenteykha village has 16 households.
Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that around 37 individuals, who came in contact with the primary contact, had been traced.
The individuals were mostly villagers who came to conduct the ritual and the monks who were conducting the ritual.
Toepisa gewog officials have instructed the villagers to follow Covid-19 protocols and to remain calm.
The officials have also instructed the villagers to avoid movement for safety.
In Wangdue, two individuals have been quarantined. The two individuals also came in contact with the primary contact, when he was travelling to Trongsa.
The primary contact had met a woman while visiting a goenpa in Dangchu gewog and a man for a meal at Pelela in Wangdue.
Health officials in Wangdue have been advised to conduct a test after three to four days.
Six people are put into facility quarantine in Trongsa, as they have contacted two primary contacts of the index case.
Sampels from both the primary contacts of the index case were sent to Thimphu yesterday afternoon.
It was learnt that the primary contact attended a ritual in Tashidingkha.
People of Eusa, Takste, Bubja and Tashidingkha are restricted for movement within the community.
According to Drakteng Gup Kinzang Dorji, villagers are asked not to travel out of the villages, as the primary contact came to drop parcel.
With most of the people worried about the possibility of another lockdown, Trongsa residents were seen rushing to buy essentials.
The dzongkhag Covid-19 taskforce requested all people, who came to the dzongkhag from Thimphu after December 7 to register with the taskforce.
The eastern regional referral hospital in Mongar collected samples from 200 people, including passengers of public transport buses, who travelled to and from Thimphu since December 7.
The samples would be tested at the Mongar Covid-19 lab along with the samples from other health centres in the eastern region.
The dzongkhag Covid-19 taskforce also resumed all its functions with the activation of the control room. Gewogs were also notified to ensure all people who have travel history to Thimphu from December 7 to undergo the test.
Trashigang and Trashiyangtse
Passengers of five buses and 20 vehicles, who came from Thimphu on December 18, had undergone testing in Trashigang hospital yesterday. All travellers were asked to home quarantine for seven days.
Dzongdag Cheki Gyeltshen said he issued notifications to drungkhag and gewog officials to prepare for a second lockdown and monitor their respective area.
He said the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force would meet today and discuss what needs to be done. “We will remind local leaders to stock up essentials to last more than two weeks.”
In Trashiyangtse, Dzongdag Thuji Tshering said dzongkhag taskforce met and discussed the way forward.
He said they started tracing people who returned from Thimphu and conducted the test for 129 travellers and all tested negative.
Samdrupjongkhar Covid-19 taskforce issued a notification stating that all games and sports including archery, khuru and football, would not be allowed from today to avoid unnecessary gatherings until further notice.
More than 280 frontline workers were tested for Covid-19 yesterday and it continues today.
More than 290 people had come to Gelephu between December 7 and 19.
People who have come to Gelephu on December 19 were asked to home quarantine. They will be tested within a week for Covid-19.
Officials from contact tracing and surveillance team said test results of people who came to Gelephu between December 7 and 19 from Thimphu would determine whether the dzongkhag has to lockdown.
More than 150 travellers have been put under home quarantine and sat for rapid antigen tests in Damphu, as sample collections for those who came to the dzongkhag from Thimphu since December 18 are ongoing.
About 50 people, who have travelled to Thimphu before December 18 were tested at the flu clinic.
Health officials said about 1,850 people came to Paro from Thimphu since December 19 and earlier yesterday. They have been asked to follow strict home quarantine for a week.
Official said health team would conduct Covid-19 test at the end of the quarantine.
Those who came from Thimphu between December 7 to 19 were requested to visit flu clinic for testing.
The health team also requests anyone with flu-like symptoms to visit flu clinic for testing.
As of yesterday, there was no direct contact of the index case in Paro.
The health team tested 19 individuals for RT-PCR who were exposed to the high-risk area in Thimphu.
Phub Dem | Paro
Paro dzongkhag court convicted a 44-year-old man from Trashiyangtse to three years in prison for stealing iron chain links from the bridge over Pachhu near Tacho Lhakhang in Paro.
Guru Tshering will have to spend two years, ten months and five days in prison, as it is non-compoundable imprisonment. He stayed one month and five days in prison when he was arrested for the offence earlier this year.
The judgment passed on December 18 stated that he was found guilty of stealing 18 and a half chain links from the bridge on January 13 this year.
Guru Tshering was found guilty of violating section 24 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004.
It states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of damage to cultural and national heritage property or national monuments, if the defendant damages, destroys, or excavates a cultural or national heritage property and national monuments.
The offence is graded a fourth-degree felony with minimum sentencing of three years to a maximum of five years in prison.
The court ordered the defendant to surrender the confiscated chain links to the government.
Paro police recovered 16 and a half chain links from the convict, whereas the convict sold the remaining two chain links.
Meanwhile, the iron bridge was closed for the public for more than five years, but people stole the iron chains every year.
The bridge, built by Thangthong Gyalpo, revered as Drupthob Chang Zampa or the ‘Great Iron Bridge Builder’, is considered an important historical site. It was restored with iron chains from across the country.
Chimi Dema | Tsirang
Dagana Dzongkhag Tshogdu’s disciplinary committee in its investigation report cleared the Tsendagang gup of the corruption charges a villager filed against him.
The committee reported that the closure and re-opening of the farm road in the vicinity of Norphel Bricks Manufacturing Factory in Tsendagang gewog was gewog tshogde’s (GT) decision.
The committee also reported that the gewog tshogde took the decision in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The chairperson of the committee and Goshi gup, Tandin said that the movement, however, is allowed only after office hours and on weekends, and in emergencies going by the GT minutes.
On November 13, a resident of Norbuzingkha chiwog in Tsendagang gewog filed a written complaint to the dzongkhag administration alleging the gup of corrupt practices and misuse of power.
The complainant, the owner of Norphel Bricks Manufacturing Factory in the chiwog, alleged that the 1.72-kilometre farm road to the factory, which was closed in April following the GT’s decision was reopened in favour of a new businessperson in November.
He stated that the gewog administration closed the road reasoning disturbances from the factory to the nearby gewog centre.
The committee initiated the investigation after the dzongkhag administration forwarded the case to the dzongkhag tshogdu on November 26.
The chairperson said that the complainant operated the brick factory in partnership with the landowner in the past. “The machinery in the factory were also installed by the landowner.”
“According to the agreement between them, the landowner overtook the factory as the complainant failed to share the profit within the given deadline,” he said.
The complainant, however, alleged that despite the 10-year agreement, the landowner in collaboration with the gup last year, asked him to relocate the factory claiming that he wants to construct a house,” he said.
“The landowner later initiated a bricks business instead of a house. The gewog administration supported reopening of the road for his factory,” he said.
The chairperson also said that although the complainant was given the approval to start a new factory in a temporary shed by the gewog administration, he did not avail clearance for relocation.
Meanwhile, the complainant said that none of the disciplinary committee members has come to him for the investigation.
On this, the chairperson said that the investigation was done according to the directive from the DT.
The complainant also said that he is still waiting for the response from the agencies concerned.
The DT Thrizin Lhawang Dorji said that the investigation report has been forwarded to the dzongkhag administration and did not share any concrete decision on the findings.
The dzongkhag officials, however, said that the dzongkhag administration doesn’t have the authority to take action on the report.
“We have forwarded the case and the DT has the full authority to decide on the findings going by the Local Governance Act,” Dagana Dzongdag Phintsho Choeden said. “The copy of the report has been shared with us for only information.”
With increasing domestic tourism in the country, Bhutan Insurance Limited (BIL) introduced domestic travel and transit insurance.
The domestic travel insurance offers three packages (standard, gold and platinum) to individuals, family, nyamro, office-goers and pilgrims. The insurance covers dead body repatriation, emergency medical evacuation and expenses.
The company also launched mobile app (m-BIL) along with the insurance policies last week.
The app provides clients with services to view details on loans and insurance policies, repayment of loan instalments, generate instant online payment receipts, claim status tracker and make payment on behalf of others.
BIL’s general manager, Sonam Tobgay, said the app, which would also work offline, provides the location of the nearest BIL offices where they can claim their insurance.
He said the overall objective was to change the mindset of people that insurance is important and not an expense. “Insurance is in an infant stage in Bhutan. Our major intention is to introduce insurance as an important component in providing security and developing the economy.”
Sonam Tobgay said the insurance helps to reduce financial burden in times of need.
The domestic transit insurance provides basic coverage for goods that are lost or damaged during the transit.
The company provides homeowners, office, contractor, merchant and sanampa transit insurance.
Sonam Tobgay said that since the pandemic affected the livelihood of individuals, further losses of their goods or produces might impact them severely. “BIL felt the need to try and reduce the burden on the individuals, agencies or businesses that were affected.”
Following a local Covid-19 outbreak in Thimphu, eight people have tested positive for the virus as of last night.
This includes the 25-year-old index patient who tested positive from the flu clinic in Thimphu on December 19. She had visited the flu clinic at the RBP ground with symptoms. The results were reconfirmed yesterday, triggering a complete lockdown of the capital city and its periphery settlements.
Seven of her primary contacts including four children also tested positive for the virus yesterday. As of last night, 800 people were traced in connection to the eight positive cases.
A total of 1,683 people were traced through the Druk Trace app including those from the locality where the cases lived. The host family of the 25-year-old woman resides at the centre of town — above the Centenary Farmer’s Market and below the works and human settlement ministry.
RT-PCR results were awaited as of 12 midnight yesterday. Depending on the test results, the duration and extent of the lockdown would be decided.
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering during a live address to the nation last night said that the woman had recently returned from Gelephu. However, she tested negative for the virus during the RT-PCR test at the end of the seven-day quarantine. As per the Covid-19 protocol, she was quarantined for seven days before travelling from higher-risk area to lower-risk area.
This could mean that the woman was infected while in Thimphu. Lyonchhen said that for now, it was unclear if she was the first person to catch the virus in the locality.
However, he said that looking at the level of antibodies in their bodies, they could have been infected around 11 to 12 days ago. This also meant that the virus may not be widespread in the community.
The health ministry has requested any individual who has travelled outside Thimphu on or after December 7 to get tested. Lyonchhen said that almost 38,000 people have travelled to the 19 dzongkhags from the capital since December 7.
He added that any individual with flu-like symptoms must immediately visit the flu clinics and get tested. To facilitate testing during the lockdown, the health ministry has opened additional flu clinics in places like Taba, Depsi, Samtenling, Zilukha, and Olakha.
Despite the lockdown, Lyonchhen said that people suffering from flu-like symptoms and want to get tested would be allowed to move.
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old woman who was travelling abroad for her studies had also visited several offices including financial institutions and a monastery. However, Lyonchhen said that she readily cooperated with the surveillance team and had used the face mask religiously.
One of her contacts who was travelling to the east had also been to several places along the highway. He had reached Trongsa when the surveillance team traced him following the detection of the positive case in Thimphu.