In the wake of coronavirus pandemic, the Himalyan kingdom of Bhutan has closed down all its international borders with India.
It has also restricted all the international crossings with effect from Tuesday.
In a statement, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan issued a public notification in this regard 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 6 am of Monday until further notice.”
The notification further pointed out that Bhutanese arriving at border crossings shall be allowed to enter Bhutan 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 further stated.
Four districts of Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) of Assam shares international borders with Bhutan at various places viz Saralpara (Kokrajhar), Dadgiri (Chirang), Darranga (Baksa) and Bhairabkunda (Udalguri).
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 them in Assam and West 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 the COVID-19 novel coronavirus 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 early March.
Eight Indian passengers who travelled with the American on the same aircraft, from Guwahati to Bhutan’s international airport in Paro, have also been quarantined.
However, all of them tested negative.
The Bhutan–India border is the international border separating Bhutan and India.
The border is 699 km long, and adjoins the Indian states of Assam (267 km), Arunachal Pradesh (217 km), West Bengal (183 km), and Sikkim (32 km).