A meeting chaired by Bhutanese PM Lotay Tshering for coronavirus preparedness on March 2, before the first positive case was confirmed Credit: Twitter

Guwahati: First confirmed case of Coronavirus has emerged from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan after a US tourist was tested positive, Bhutan PM Lotay Tshering’s office informed on Friday.

According to a release, the 76-year-old passenger was confirmed positive on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday. He has been quarantined and considering his age and underlying conditions, the patient is on oxygen support.

The American tourist had entered the country from Paro International Airport after embarking on a Drukair flight from Guwahati, Assam on March 2.

The COVID-19 infected passenger has had earlier toured India from February 21 to March 1. He was travelling with a partner (59), along with 10 passengers on board, of which eight were Indian nationals.

Till the time of releasing the press release, health officials had traced over 90 contacts. They are being traced at all the places in the patient’s itinerary.

The closest contacts of the patient, his partner, driver and guide, all asymptomatic now, have been quarantined at designated COVID-19 hospitals. The eight Indian passengers have also been quarantined. The government is closely working with the Indian Embassy.

Also Read: Coronavirus: Nagaland govt issues circular over state’s readiness

Bhutan’s health ministry has asked the four crew members of the particular flight, and the hotel staff at both Le Meridien and Densa Boutique Resort, where the patient stayed, to remain “home quarantined”. Simply put, they will have to stay at home and maintain distance from people, including family members, until all suspicions are ruled out. Health officials will closely monitor and provide all services at respective homes, added the release.

Conforming with response plan, Bhutan government has announced closure of schools and institutes in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha for two weeks with effect from March 6.

The government will impose two weeks’ restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect. This is to enable rigorous monitoring, source assessment of infection and mitigate the situation. In addition, all international conferences and seminars to be held in the country in the two weeks are also postponed, stated the press release.

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