Bhutan confirms first coronavirus case

Updated: Mar 06, 2020, 12:14 IST | AFP | Thimphu

The government immediately shut borders to foreign visitors for two weeks in an effort to limit the impact of the disease

This picture has been used for representation purpose
This picture has been used for representation purpose

The isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has reported its first case of the coronavirus after a US tourist tested positive, the prime minister said Friday. The tiny, land-locked country, famous for measuring Gross National Happiness has emerged as a popular tourist destination in recent years. But the government immediately shut borders to foreign visitors for two weeks in an effort to limit the impact of a disease that has wreaked havoc in more developed countries around the world. The 76-year-old man arrived in Bhutan from India on March 2, and was admitted to hospital on March 5 with a fever, where he tested positive for COVID-19, the office of Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said in a Facebook post.

The post added that there would be "two weeks' restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect". Schools in three areas -- including the capital Thimphu -- will be closed for two weeks from Friday. The patient, who has not been named, left Washington on February 10, touring India from February 21 to March 1. Health officials say they have traced roughly 90 people he came into contact with in Bhutan, with his 59-year-old partner, driver and guide all being placed in quarantine. None is currently showing symptoms.

Eight Indian nationals who were on the flight to Bhutan have also been quarantined. More than 3,000 people have died from novel coronavirus, with nearly 100,000 confirmed infections globally.

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