Covid timeline of Bhutan:
11 Jan 2020: The planning for national strategy on covid response began and in 2 weeks, first draft of the national covid response plans were published.
02 Feb 2020: Publication of Covid response protocols, start of global covid surveillance – no cases detected in the country; health screenings procedures established at the entry with self declaration forms; training of frontliners; national preparedness and response avenues established
05 March 2020: First case of covid-19 detected in American tourist while in Bhutan
06 March 2020: Tourism suspended along with imposition of entry restrictions
16 March 2020: first quarantine protocols placed with restrictions on entry except for returning Bhutanese subject to 21 days of quarantine.
14 April 2020: Establishment of national welfare scheme – relief monthly wages to be given directly to affected and laid off individuals, with provision for family supplements
19 May 2020: 21 cases (5 active then), 0 deaths
13 July 2020: 84 cases (mostly returning citizens detected while in quarantine), no deaths
07 Aug 2020: 108 total cases with 0 death
10th Aug 2020: 1st National Lockdown – lasting more than a month for most of the districts in the country – longer for some of the high risk zones
23rd Aug 2020: now new cases detected and gradual easing of lockdown continues
15 Sep 2020: by this date, 5 covid testing labs established (246 total cases, 0 deaths)
17 Dec 2020: The Prime Minister, Health Minister and the Health Ministry recognized by His Majesty the King with national awards for effective covid responses
19 Dec 2020: 443 total cases (21 active then) with 0 death
20 Dec 2020: 2nd national lockdown starts
01 Jan 2021: 689 total cases; 0 deaths (total tested 287162) – 2nd lockdown continues into the lockdown
07 Jan 2021: 1st covid death of a person with pre-existing condition
23 Jan 2021: Easing of the 2nd national lockdown begins
29 Jan 2021: 2nd lockdowns ends in all districts (858 total cases with 1 death)
22 March 2021: First vaccines (400, 000) arrive in the country as gift from India
27th March 2021: 1st Dose Covid Vaccination Campaign begins
08 April 2021: 94% of eligible population vaccinated with 1st dose – nearly 65% of all population; 900 total cases (24 active then) with 1 death
16 April 2021: Lockdown in southern districts – bordering India
18 Jun 2021: 87% percent of cases in the country confirmed to be delta variant
30 Jun 2021: 2100 total cases with 1 death
15 July 2021: 2nd death from covid (2380 total cases with 2 deaths)
17 July 2021: 2nd dose of covid vaccination for adults begins
24 Jul 2021: 2482 total cases with 2 deaths
27 Jul 2021: 90% of eligible population (18 and above) given 2nd dose of covid vaccines (moderna)
29 Jul 2021: 1st dose of modern vaccination for children between 12 – 18 years above started, from high risk zone and then by 02 Aug 2021, those children in low risk areas given.
11 Aug 2021: 3rd death from covid (2551 total cases)
13 Aug 2021: Lockdown declared in southern districts
26 Aug 2021: 2591 total cases with 3 deaths
03 Sep 2021: Lockdown in souther districts ends
13 Sep 2021: 2nd dose vaccination campaign for children aged 12 – 18 begins
14 Oct 2021: high risk groups of population including elders, infants, pregnant women, health workers and patients with underlying conditions given flu vaccine
04 Dec 2021: Genome sequencing capacity established in Royal Centre for Disease Control, Thimphu Capital City and noted that while Omicron variant have been detected elsewhere, there is no evidence of its presence in the country
24 Dec 2021: Booster shots – 3rd covid vaccination for adults begin
01 Jan 2022: 2660 total cases (7 active then) with 3 deaths
07 Jan 2022: Lockdown in southern district begins the wave of lockdown across the country
13 Jan 2022: The Royal Center for Disease Control registers Omicron variant in the country (through quarantine facilities)
18 Jan 2022: 3170 cases with 3 deaths
28 Jan 2022: 4th death from covid in total of 4430 cases (with 1646 active then)
03 Feb 2022: 5532 cases with 4 deaths
10 Feb 2022: 5th death in total of 6779 cases (2212 active then)
20 Feb 2022: 6th death in the total of 10, 078 cases (with 3617 active then)
01 Mar 2022: 3rd shot – booster for 18 years and above continued
05 Mar 2022: 7th death from covid registered in the total of 14451 cases
07 Mar 2022: The 1st dose for children aged 5 – 11 years start (Pfizer BioNTech) – total cases 15 119 then with 7 deaths
13 Mar 2022: Booster dose – 3rd covid vaccine for children between 12 – 18 years start (total cases of 17060 with 4083 active then with 3 severe infection)
17 Mar 2022: 8th and 9th death from covid total of 20, 116 cases
18 Mar 2022: Announcement of change in national response of covid, with travel relaxations and by instituting reverse isolation policy, whereby vulnerable population would be isolated and protected while general population will have more free movement
27 Mar 2022: a 90 year old with underlying conditions – unvaccinated becomes 10th death
31 Mar 2022: a cancer patient becomes 11 death case due to covid – she had underlying conditions
01 Apr 2022: a stroke patients succumbs to covid becoming the 12th death case
04 April 2022: 2nd dose for children aged between 5 – 11 years begin
04 Apr 2022: New covid response strategy begins, international travel quarantine requirement reduced to 5 days for fully vaccinated and 10 days for partial or unvaccinated. (Total cases 31, 927 with 12 deaths)
07 Apr 2022: Total cases 37, 049 including 5 severe infections; 7904 with no symptoms; 12 deaths
19 Sep 2022: Total: 61, 730; 21 Deaths: No hospitalization out of 145 active cases
23 Sep 2022: Borders open without quarantine to all travelers – air and land.
Covid Response Highlights:
- Borders fully open since 23rd Sep 2022 to all travelers with no restrictions.
- With His Majesty leading and government actively and efficiently carrying out the commands, all driven by science, there has been very effective responses to different stages of the pandemic.
- It is testament to such responses that there were only 4 deaths and 400 cases till the beginning of the year 2022.
- State run Reverse Isolation Facilities for vulnerable population during the current change in approach of living with the virus. Vaccination of all eligible ages.
- Separate covid hospitals in various strategic regions with state run isolation facilities.
- Flu clinics established to screen out possible infections before entering hospitals in all districts.
- Dictation of different zones according to risks.
- More than 50, 000 people affected by pandemic (mostly from tourism but also from other sectors) given access to welfare schemes (such as mostly wages), alternative engagements, re-skilling, up-skilling programs, etc.
- Many businesses affected, mainly of tourism, given loan repayment deferments and other fiscal protection including additional loans with flexible schemes besides total waiver on some part of repayments.
Covid Facts as of Sep 2022
- Covid Cases: 61, 730 total cases (as of 19 Sep 2022); 21 deaths: Presently 00 Hospitalization out of 145 active cases
- Dominant Variant:Omicron BA.2
- Vaccination Rate: 92% of total population
- Protocol in effect: Masking in public recommended; hand washing recommended, possible random testing
- Travel: No restrictions; small chance of random testing to maintain COVID – 19 surveillance for new variants.
Note: There are exceptions to test and vaccination requirements to those below 5 years of age and some upto 12 years of age.
Ports of Entry (as of Sep 2022):
- India (Kolkata, Delhi, Bagdhora, Bodhgaya) open for all international travel that are fully vaccinated OR have negative result of RT-PCR test within 72 hours before arrival, all to be detailed in self declaration form. The self declaration form to be filled in before boarding. Self monitoring for 14 days recommended. 2% of flight to be randomly tested and if positive, quarantine protocols to be applied. One maybe subject to register on contact tracing apps. This is as of 2nd Sep 2022. More details: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/GuidelinesforInternationalarrivalsupdatedon02September2022.pdf
- Nepal (Kathmandu): Either with negative test or full vaccination certificate, all international travel by air allowed on-arrival visa without quarantine. Covid protocols enforced. Subject to test result and health condition, quarantine maybe imposed on individuals.(In effect from 10th March 2022). More details: https://www.immigration.gov.np/post/travel-advisory-published-on-16th-march-2022
- Thailand (Bangkok): From 1st Oct 2022, passengers will be no longer required to present COVID-19 related documents such as a certificate of vaccination and COVID-19 test results upon arrival in Thailand.Entry requirements for Thailand are the same for all travelers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
- Bangladesh (Dhaka): An online declaration form to be filled in. If fully vaccinated (14 days prior to arrival) or testing negative within 72 hours of arrival, no quarantine required . For partial or unvaccinated – negative result of RT-PCR test taken no more than 48 hours required, if not 07 days quarantine applicable. Possible subjection to additional health screenings at the airport and corresponding to result, quarantine. (In effect from 2nd Jun 2022). More details: http://caab.gov.bd/circul/AT-Circular-FSR-03-2022%20(02June22).pdf
- Singapore (Singapore): Quarantine and testing free entry to Singapore for fully vaccinated travelers. Partially or unvaccinated travelers (above 12 years) will need to show negative result of RT-PCR or ART taken within 48 hours before departure. Those with documented covid infection between 14-90 days can travel without testing but documentation to be checked before arrival. (in effect from 1st Aug 2022). More details: https://www.ica.gov.sg/enter-transit-depart/entering-singapore.