Written by Esha Roy | New Delhi | Published: June 14, 2020 3:57:54 am
State Health department officials said all positive cases in Sikkim have been reported from among returnees, and that no local transmission has been recorded till date. (Representational)
Having kept the virus at bay for the first few months, the number of confirmed cases in Sikkim more than doubled to 63 on Saturday with 36 cases reported on Friday.
Sikkim had remained coronavirus-free till as late as May 23, when the state detected its first positive case.
It was also one of the first states to have completely closed down its borders and prohibited all movement, except transport of essential goods, between the state and the rest of the country. The restrictions were lifted in the state after the Centre started easing the nationwide lockdown and allowed Sikkimese residents living outside the state to return.
State Health department officials said all positive cases in Sikkim have been reported from among returnees, and that no local transmission has been recorded till date.
“Of 36 cases which tested positive yesterday, 34 are (returnees) from Maharashtra, one from Siliguri (West Bengal), and one from Kolkata,” Sikkim Health Secretary Dr Pempa Bhutia said. “A group of 191 people returned from Maharashtra on June 4; they were immediately quarantined.”
Bhutia said the authorities test people on the fifth day of quarantine, and tests every single person who returns to the state. “The expense for this is borne by the state government.”
Bhutia said 14 people had tested positive on Thursday, of whom 10 had returned from Maharashtra.
Of the 63 cases so far in the state, four have been discharged and 59 are still in hospital.
Bhutia said, “We don’t expect any more cases because all Sikkimese people living and working outside the state have returned. The people who are expected to come now are non-Sikkimese—students who study here and teachers and Central government employees who work here. Since the Union government has extended the shutdown of institutions until August 1, the state has decided that the borders will be kept sealed till August.”
Unlike many other states, Bhutia said, Sikkim is testing its medical professions regularly. Bhutia said a group of 34 doctors, nurses and paramedics are in attendance at Covid wards for one week, after which they are sent to mandatory institutional quarantine for two weeks, and are also tested. They are replaced by another group of 34 professionals.
According to officials, the lockdown has given the states in the Northeast, including Sikkim, time to set up their health infrastructure to deal with the pandemic. Sikkim began constructing its first BSL-3 lab on April 13. The lab is fully operational now, officials said.
It is also acquiring 5,000 rapid testing kits every week to test all residents of the state and has no shortage of kits, officials maintained.
The state has not registered any coronavirus death till date.
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