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India-Bhutan border sealed from today

Bhutan has reported its first confirmed case of Covid-19 after a tourist visiting the country from Guwahati tested positive

By Shajid Khan in Udalguri
  • Published 24.03.20, 2:20 AM
  • Updated 24.03.20, 2:20 AM
  • a min read
A man conducts a thermal screening of a visitor at Darrangamela on the India-Bhutan border. Picture by Shajid Khan

Bhutan has closed down its border with India, restricting all the international crossings with effect from Tuesday, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, pandemic, affecting five districts in Assam.

In a statement, ministry of home and cultural affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan, issued a public notification which read, “In view of the rapidly evolving situation in the region regarding Covid-19 and to mitigate the risks posed by this pandemic, all international borders shall be closed with effect from 6am of March 23, 2020 until further notice.”

The notification pointed out that Bhutanese arriving at border crossings shall be allowed to enter the country subject to medical screening and a mandatory two-week quarantine at a designated facility, adding that foreigners residing in the kingdom will be allowed to exit.

The notification has been issued in consultation with the Prime Minister’s Office, Bhutan for strict compliance, it stated.

Four districts of Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) of Assam share international border with Bhutan at various places — Saralpara (Kokrajhar), Dadgiri (Chirang), Darranga (Baksa) and Bhairabkunda (Udalguri).

The Bongaigaon-Gelephu border near Bongaigaon district is another district to be affected by the closure.

Uttam Saha, a ginger trader of Udalguri, who procures ginger from Bhutan and sells in Assam and Bengal, said, “The traders must be exempted from the purview as it will hamper the bilateral ties and hamper the business economy of both the nations.”

Bhutan has reported its first confirmed case of Covid-19 after a tourist visiting the country from Guwahati tested positive.

According to an announcement by the PMO Bhutan, the 76-year-old American tourist entered Bhutan from India on March 2. Eight Indian passengers who travelled with the American on the same aircraft, from Assam to Bhutan’s international airport in Paro, have been quarantined. All of them tested negative.

The border is 699km long, and adjoins Assam (267km), Arunachal Pradesh (217km), West Bengal (183km) and Sikkim (32km).