Gangtok: Amid a steady rise in the number of new cases in Sikkim, 18 COVID-19 patients are “untraceable”, said sources in the health department.

While 10 of them are tourists, the remaining eight include local residents and students studying in the state. Among the local residents, one of them has been identified as a student of Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School. He is believed to have been part of the contingent that went for the Dandi Yatra in Gujarat recently.

Sikkim recorded its highest single-day rise this year on Sunday, with 54 new COVID-19 cases, all of which were from East Sikkim. Among the new cases, sources claimed, many were from the 150-member contingent that went to Gujarat along with CM Prem Singh Golay recently.

As for the contingent itself, most of them were from the state’s culture department, two of whom are now untraceable, sources said.

Meanwhile, the government’s daily health bulletin on Sunday mentioned the names of COVID-19 patients — a major deviation from the past, owing primarily to some of the patients remaining untraceable.

Speaking with EastMojo, health official Sonam Bhutia, who presents the daily health bulletin, said, “We feel that most of these untraceable persons are tourists. They may have run away after learning that they have tested positive for coronavirus. There are three tourists, as mentioned in the health bulletin yesterday, who were later found at STNM Hospital. However, they refused to give the address of the hotel they were staying, forcing us to declare the hospital premises as a containment zone.”

“Two tourists from Kolkata have run away,” Bhutia said, adding: “Those from Bangalore have not been picking up their phones. Many others have not been found.”

Also read: RAT Testing at borders soon, but no lockdown: Sikkim CM Golay

Mostly, health officials are provided with the contact details of the persons who test positive for COVID-19. “When we contacted two tourists from Maharashtra, a male and female, to inform them that they are COVID-19 positive, they informed us they already know about it and that they have left Sikkim,” said Bhutia.

There were 14 COVID-19 positive tourists in all, four of whom were identified. Later another tourist was found to be at STNM Hospital, so he was declared as traced, informed the official.

The health official has now sought the help of various hotel associations in identifying such tourists. “When we mention the names of untraceable tourists, there has to be some sort of registration that they may have done. Such hoteliers must help us, but we feel that they are scared of their premises being declared as a containment zone,” said Bhutia.

Meanwhile, Sikkim CM Golay said on Sunday, “It is always advisable to get the tourists tested themselves for the virus. If they end up testing COVID-19 positive here, the hotel they are staying will get sealed. They will incur losses for 11 days with the ‘containment zone’ tag. If the tourists come safely, then we become safe.”

Also read: Sikkim to shut down schools and institutions till April 20

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