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Sikkim goes for total lockdown

Officials say decision follows rising Covid cases.

Statesman News Service | Gangtok |

While on one hand the West Bengal government has announced complete lockdown twice a week to check suspected community spreading of Covid19, neighboring Sikkim today decided to bring the entire Himalayan state under total lockdown for seven days beginning tomorrow.

Chief Secretary of the Sikkim government, SC Gupta, today issued an order to this effect after Chief Minister PS Golay held a meeting with officials. While the state, which had managed to remain Covid-free for a long time earlier, has reported some cases of the virus recently, it has not reported a death due to Covid-19 so far.

Mr Gupta, in his order, specifically mentioned that all education and training and coaching centres will remain closed till 31 August.

“All government offices, shops, commercial institutions, markets and factories will remain closed,” the order said.

The administration will, however, allow movement of people for emergency purposes and vehicles, which are required for the supply of essential goods and maintenance of essential services, including the Covid-19 management, and the Army and Para Military forces.

Asked to comment on the situation, District Magistrate and Controller, East Sikkim, Raj Yadav, said: “The decision to impose total lockdown was taken after an increasing trend of asymptomatic cases was detected. A total of 193 Covid cases have been detected across the state. There is no death owing to Covid 19 and even no critical Covid patient.”

“Coronavirus has been transmitted from neighbouring states as people from Sikkim need to go to Siliguri via Kalimpong to bring essential commodities for Sikkim. We hope that the situation will come under control after the sevenday total lockdown,” Mr Yadav said.

According to official sources, the state administration has identified over five containment zones. In East Sikkim, two hospitals, where 250 beds are available, have been earmarked for dedicated treatment for Covid-19 patients.

Though there is only one RT-PCR laboratory for the state, the administration has decided to conduct more tests among suspected communities and people to fight the pandemic. Notably, Sikkim was safe at the initial stages, but the virus spread after a section of the people was allowed to return homes from different states.

“The number of Covid-19 patients has increased since the unlock phase began. Our tourism industry has come to zero. An Economy Revival Committee has been formed as we demanded soft loans. But nothing has been executed,” said the vice-president of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim, Gopal Chhetri.

“Several car owners, who bought vehicles on loan, now plan to sell them as they have failed to pay their monthly instalments on a regular basis,” a senior officer of the tourism department said.