More than 2,500 stranded individuals await quarantine service in Samtse

With a limited quarantine facility and an increasing number of people registering for quarantine service, Samtse Dzongkhag is struggling to meet the demand for quarantine service. Today, over 2,600 individuals have registered for quarantine service with the District Task Force and are waiting to get quarantine facilities.

Among the many awaiting their turn to enter a quarantine facility is 33-year-old Sonam who stays in Samtse throm. Sonam said he had requested a quarantine service since last month to visit his sick mother in Trongsa.

Every day he has been patiently waiting for a call from the Dzongkhag. But sadly, the only call he received was from his village to tell him that his mother had passed away.

“This is the eighth day since my mother expired. I am still waiting for a call for the confirmation of my quarantine. But I haven’t received one. It is very disheartening,” said Sonam.

Despite being unable to see his mother during her final days, Sonam is hopeful that he can at least attend her funeral.

“My relatives have not conducted the funeral yet in the hope that we will be able to at least make it up for the last rites. If the Dzongkhag quarantine management team gives me an opportunity, I am ever ready to go.”

Like Sonam, 55-year-old Rinzin Wangchuk is also desperately waiting for a response from the dzongkhag quarantine management team. Rinzin and his family came to Samtse from Thimphu on January 18 for the funeral of a relative who passed away recently. Rinzin and 16 relatives have been stranded, living in a small cramped apartment for almost two months.

“As soon as we were done with the funeral, I had registered for quarantine service to return to Thimphu. And I called them several times sharing my situation but that time they said they were sending high school students first. They said that they will call us. But now it is March and we still have not been able to move out,” said Rinzin Wangchuk.

But it is not only them who are struggling. Of late, the dzongkhag administration who looks after the quarantine service has been burdened with a huge number of people registering for quarantine service.

“As of today, we have about over 2,500 people who have registered for quarantine service. And we have not been able to give them the quarantine service as most of the quarantine facilities are being used as isolation facilities for COVID patients and all their primary contacts. Due to this, we are having difficult times in meeting the demand,” said Pasang Dorji, Samtse Dzongda.

And he further added that more people have entered the district recently for the recent local government election and to spend the winter vacation putting more pressure on the quarantine management team.

“Despite the increasing number, we will continue to send all those who have registered with us as and when quarantine facilities are made available. Just last week, we were able to send about 365 registered people to other districts,” added the Dzongda.

For now, Samtse district has five quarantine facilities to accommodate only about 180 individuals. More than 15,000 people have availed themselves of quarantine service for travels to low-risk areas from Samtse since the district was declared as a high-risk area.

Passang Dorji, Samtse

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