Sikkim: With 29 positive cases in GREF camp, entire Silk Route sealed
Gangtok: With 29 new COVID-19 cases, of which 23 are from GREF camp in Rongli in East Sikkim, the Rongli Bazar and surrounding 3 km radius area has been declared as a containment zone.
Earlier this week, when six cases were recorded, the camp was declared as containment zone. But the fear of community spread has risen and the entire Silk Route has since been sealed.
The fabled Silk Route of Sikkim is from Rongli to Kupup bordering the Tri-junction Area between Bhutan and China, apart from the scenic tourist attraction, the route is ideally used by the Army and paramilitary as a direct access from Rangpo to Nathu La. With the camp and the Rongli town being declared as containment zone, the route has now been sealed.
Speaking with EastMojo, East DC Raj Yadav said, "A showcause notice has been issued to the Officer Commanding VK Seth of the 133 RCC GREF Camp. As per the report submitted by the Sub Divisional Magistrate Rongli and Block Development Officer Regu, the OC had not adhered to the orders issued by the East District Authorities regarding quarantining of employees, drivers, and labourers. Therefore, the OC is directed to show cause for his act of negligence and dereliction of duty".
He further mentioned, "It appears that the labourers and drivers were not put under quarantine in the transit camp. They were allowed to go home, hence a show cause notice has been issued keeping in mind that 29 cases have come up from the camp".
Rongli Sub Divisional Magistrate PR Dulal said, "Of the 23 new cases, if appears 11 were in the quarantine facility while 12 were from outside the facility but working in the camp. The camp is spread across a 3 km area, and most labourers work from home coming to the camp. After 6 positive cases came earlier this week, we had locked the camp, drivers were in transit camp. But, all returnees were in the quarantine facility".
The SDM further mentioned, "It appears that the medical supervisor at the facility, was one person who attending to both inside the quarantine and also to the drivers at the transit camp. We fear that may be the reason for renewed number of cases. Yet, it has not been declared by the OC. There were local people working in the camp, not the quarantine facility, but outside which include gardeners and electricians and are mostly locals".
Police and Health officials are identifying the individuals. SDM maintained that they are hopeful that the virus has not spread outside the camp. Initially, 6 COVID positive patients were from Kerela who had reached the state. "The virus has spread because the camp was not under the District Authorities, it being a GREF camp was being looked after by the Defence authorities with their own protocols, otherwise we could have controlled the spread if it was under the District Authorities".
Elsewhere the DC East has also maintained that entry of vehicles to and from Rongli Bazaar will be allowed only for essential commodities, keeping even the Army at bay, with provision being considered to allow Army movement only through Gangtok-Nathu La route via the Jawaharlal Nehru Road, with strict orders for no movement to and from the containment zone. There is Army movement in the route, with growing border disputes with China.