Gangtok: Following the death of the Kalimpong COVID-19 patient on Monday morning, the Sikkim health department has tracked down seven individuals from East Sikkim and five from West Sikkim districts.

A total of 320 passengers were on board the SpiceJet flight from Chennai to Bagdogra, say health officials from the state, with a devoted tracking and surveillance team contacted all of them.

“With aid from the Union ministry of civil aviation, we tracked down 12 from Sikkim. The tracking is still in process for two, while the other 10 have been contacted. Six of them are already in home quarantine. Four of them didn’t fill the self-declaration form and we didn’t know, they were tracked yesterday [Sunday], and shifted to Mining quarantine centre”, said health director general Pempa Tshering Bhutia.

Questions have been raised with regards to contact, if any, and the seating of the 12 passengers from Sikkim in the flight in which the Kalimpong patient was travelling. “The victim was seated on 1A with the closest passenger from Sikkim seated on 12A, another one was on the 14th row, while the rest were mostly seated on the 26th and 27th rows. The two-metre distance has been maintained with regards to seating,” he said.

The director-general asserted that if there was a symptom to be noted, it should have shown by now, considering 11 days have passed since their travel. “Since they came in the same flight, we might conduct the sampling for all the 12 identified people and send them to either NBMCH testing lab if it is functional or to Kolkata. Six of them are currently in home quarantine barring the four individuals from Rangpo IBM who have been sent to government quarantine facility in Rangpo, given their close proximity to the facility. Two are yet to be tracked,” he said.

Withholding travel history is a crime in the current scenario and emphasising on the same, Bhutia appealed everyone who may have commuted to Sikkim in the past two weeks from outside the state to voluntarily disclose their travel history.

“Thankfully, the public in the state are very conscious about the situation and it has been neighbours and others who have informed the SDMs and the police if any person has been hiding his or her travel history. A few cases came to light and they have reprimanded and put under home and government quarantine facilities,” Bhutia said.

Altogether, 10 samples have been sent by the state so far, with three being sent on Sunday. Eight of them have turned out to be negative; results of two are awaited, he added.

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