GANGTOK: Tourists visiting Sikkim must mandatorily have a travel card and an RT-PCR negative report, even if they have been vaccinated. The failure of producing the same will result first in RAT tests and if tested positive, the tourist and their primary contacts will be put under paid quarantine, followed by RT-PCR testing if necessary.

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The Sikkim tourism department issued new safety protocols for tourists on Monday and also placed a large part of the onus on safe travelling on the tourists ‘willing to take the risk’. It has advised tourists above the age of 65 years and infants below the age of 10 years to avoid travelling to Sikkim.

All tourists visiting the state, irrespective of their vaccination status, will need to produce mandatory RT-PCR negative report within 72 hours of testing. Those travelling without a negative report will be made to take RAT test before entering Sikkim.

The RAT tests will be done at Tourism Information centres along state borders at Melli, Rangpo checkposts, as well as at Pakyong Airport. All expenses for tests (RAT or RT-PCR), accomodation in quarantine centres and treatment shall be borne by the tourists themselves.

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The Sikkim health department has noticed that many tourists who get tested COVID-19 positive after reaching Sikkim have run away to their without informing the authorities. This has led to the state being unable to indentify primary contacts of these tourists.

In the update to the existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to be followed, the Sikkim government states: “All tourists must provide correct information about their address, stay and travel history. If tested positive then such tourists and their primary contacts must mandatorily comply to quarantine and isolation.”

“Travel agencies and accomodation facilitators must ensure that the tourist is kept in quarantine until their RT-PCR report is received. In case of a positive RT-PCR test report, isolation of asymptomatic persons for a minimum of 10 days. Persons showing symptoms and requiring medical assistance shall be transferred to a COVID facility for further assistance.”

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The government has also urged tourists to book only those hotels that are following COVID 19 protocols and are registered on Sikkim Tourism‘s web portal.

Similarly, drivers ferrying tourists must abide by the safety protocols. However, even as the state made it mandatory for negative report and testing at the borders, the drivers ferrying these tourists have not been put under purview of getting RT-PCR negative report nor are they under any compulsion to carry out RAT testing, nor are they to go for quarantines.

On Sunday, 99 domestic and 2 international tourists entered Sikkim, which included 14 RAT tests and one of them testing positive.

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