As more coronavirus cases rise in the state, govt orders new measures in place
Gangtok, July 16: Coronavirus, in the few months that it has relentlessly spread, has become a household name. The guidelines from all bodies of governance and health care have till now instructed people on how not to make it a house guest.
The norms have been laid out and repeatedly explained but regardless, people still flout them. Sikkim has had increasing levels of scares in the past 3 months, swiftly leaping from zero to a hundred and now, then the panic caused due to Rongli and Pakyong Sub-Divisions falling under the threat of being ground zero for a community spread.
Chief Minister, PS Tamang in his address to the public while speaking on the Student’s Right Day at Manan Bhawan said, “With all the relaxations people have still not maintained social distancing thinking that the lift of phase-wise lockdown was something like ending a strike, it isn’t like a political strike. It is a pandemic and people should recognize it.”
With the lockdowns being lifted in compliance to the phase-wise unlocking, many sections of the society had started to normalize the loosened fetters forgetting that the virus is still looming around. The CM stressed these facts in his address.
In the fortnights before the surge from the GREF Camp in Rongli that led to a panicky atmosphere in Sikkim, the narrative that people held was seen to be that the only infected people were either at quarantine centres or in the isolation wards at the designated COVID-19 treatment hospitals. This brought multitudes of people out in the open, blatantly disregarding social distancing norms.
As it stands, the COVID-19 status in Sikkim as of July 14th has seen a total number of 198 cases, totally cured and discharged at 86, and total active cases stand at 112. A State Task Force meeting was held to address the same before the CM’s address earlier on Tuesday. It was attended by Cabinet Ministers, Chief Secretary, DGP and Heads of Departments.
During the meeting, suggestions and viewpoints were placed by ACS Finance and Planning V.B. Pathak, DGP A. Shankar Rao, Principal Secretary, Health, K. Shrinivasulu, ACS, Labour and Raj Bhawan, S.D. Negi, Special DGP S. Sudhakar Rao, DG-cum-Secretary Health, Dr Pempa T. Bhutia, Secretary, Coordination Rinzing Chewang Bhutia, Secretary Transport, Raju Basnet, Secretary IPR Namrata Thapa, Secretary UDD, Sarala Rai, Principal Chief Engineer Transport Department Karma Namgyal Bhutia, ADGP Law and Order Akshay Sachdeva and DIG Range Shri Prawin Gurung. Chief Secretary S.C. Gupta summed up the suggestions and placed his viewpoint.
After hearing all the suggestions, in which a popular one was locking the entire state down, Tamang taking in cognizance the economic condition of the state-directed only Pakyong and Rongli subdivisions to be under complete lockdown to immediately stop further transmissions.
Tamang also directed that the State Administration should strictly assess and monitor the quarantine facilities of Army and paramilitary forces including GREF.
He called for immediate up-gradation of quarantine facilities in Rongli and Pakyong Subdivisions, and consider home quarantine option to manage the increase in the number of cases, with strict orders for compliance and called for strict vigilance of Pharmaceutical companies and ensure that all guidelines are strictly followed.
He also called for limiting the number of returnees from other states, as well as the complete restriction on inter-district movement of vehicles for atleast fifteen days. He declared restriction of intra-district movement to ensure limited movement.
The Chief Minister also called for an immediate restriction on the movement of persons into the official residences of all the Ministers and MLAs.
Further, he stated that there would be an immediate restriction on the return of employees and workers of all private companies for the next fifteen days. However, Central Government employees should be allowed to enter after thorough screening and testing.
The CM suggested for augmenting the Police force by deploying forest guards and local village guards, who will be under the disposal of the concerned SP. The meeting concluded with the decision to convene for another review meeting in the next three days.
Shortly after the meeting was concluded, a few notifications were issued by the Home Department undersigned by the Chief Secretary, and East District Administrative Office of the District Collector undersigned by the DC, East. The notification from the DC’s office was clear to order a complete lockdown only at Rongli and Pakyong sub-divisions declaring them containment zones.
The Home Department’s notification directed new intermediate measures to contain the COVID-19 situation that arose from the said containment zones. The notification said that Gyms and Bars would not be allowed to operate as per the centre’s guidelines. Both inter and intra district movement to be stopped allowing only local (in-town) movement.
Two-wheelers and private vehicles not to be allowed to ply but looking at the economy and the situation of taxi drivers, taxis are allowed to operate but only if they maintain strict odd-even rules. The only two-wheelers allowed to move would be on food delivery duty. All the previous vehicle passes were rendered invalid keeping the option of new passes to be issued under the signature of the DC.