Gangtok: With the third COVID-19 case reported in Sikkim, the state evacuation cell facilitating the return of 191 people from Maharashtra said that it had anticipated a positive case from among the returnees from the state with the highest number of coronavirus cases.
All three cases in Sikkim so far have been returnees from other states, with the previous two cases being from Delhi.
The incident of the Mumbai returnee who tested positive on his way back home to Sikkim on Thursday, had concluded “what appears to be random testing in Mumbai that was conducted 2-3 days ago, but his results were awaited. He boarded the train without prior information to the state evacuation cell. Had we known, his travel would not have been facilitated. He did not inform us of his medical history to those at the evacuation cell,” said health director general Pempa Tshering Bhutia.
State evacuation cell and state nodal officer Rinzing Chewang Bhutia asserted that they had anticipated a positive case from Mumbai, keeping in mind that two previous cases were from Delhi. “We had kept Maharashtra as a priority and anticipated that given the high number of cases there, it would come through. A proper screening was conducted while the commuters boarded the train, the prerequisite being checking for fever, cough and other related symptoms. It appears he was asymptomatic, thankfully he was isolated even in the train, being the only Sikkimese in coach number 4. It was once he reached Siliguri and was boarded on a SNT bus bound for South and West Sikkim, that he got the information that he was positive while a second test needs to be conducted here in the state as well. He called us over phone to inform about the same and we immediately informed the state health department and the district Officials facilitating the Maharashtra returnees quarantine facility from the borders,” the official said.
The information came in handy for the state officials, as all 13 commuters on the bus were taken to South Sikkim while the positive patient was brought to Rangpo Check Post. From there, he was directly ferried to STNM Hospital in Gangtok. The 13 other primary contacts were put under isolation in a special quarantine facility in South Sikkim, informed the health director general.
“Testing will be done for all the commuters irrespective of their contact to the patient. In fact, all patients are being tested who are in quarantine, so transmission can be easily identified. First, testing will be for 13 on the bus, followed by 191 who were on the train. The patient is asymptomatic,” said Dr Pempa.
Meanwhile, STNM medical superintendent Dr Passang D Phempu said: “Isolation ward now has three patients with the first COVID case, who will be eyeing a discharge on June 7 after completion of his 14 days’ treatment at the hospital. He has been distanced from the two latest cases. He has remained asymptomatic and his last test has come through as negative. The active positive cases from Mining quarantine facility and the one from Mumbai will be kept in the female ward of the isolation ward. The first positive case who is in the male isolation ward will be discharged, if he tests negative on June 7. He is currently asymptomatic,” said Dr Phempu.
A glaring concern was placed last week by social activist Passang Sherpa on the state’s failure at segregating stranded people coming from green, red and orange zones. East Sikkim district magistrate Raj Yadav had earlier informed, “The country is opening up slowly, so commuters, irrespective of zones being declared, are travelling. Segregation of people has been impossible at a national level, so when these commuters are brought to Sikkim, it’s impossible to segregate”.
There are 2,805 people in home quarantine, with 7,443 cumulatively preferring home quarantine since inter-state travel was facilitated. Up to 3,268 people are present in facility quarantine which includes both paid and government facility. Cumulatively, 5,387 people have been put through facility quarantine with 2,119 being discharged. The concern still delves on how well the segregation was carried out among returnees from different zones.