GANGTOK: Sikkim recorded 175 new COVID-19 cases, its biggest single-day spike, on Thursday. Urging people to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and to avoid unnecessary travel, Health Director-General Dr Pempa Tshering Bhutia warned that a further spike could overwhelm the state’s healthcare system.

He said, “As far as possible we should stop social gatherings. This is possible if we all come together.”

On Friday, however, Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay flagged off a ‘cyclothon’ to “raise awareness” about COVID-19 vaccination. The event saw massive participation, with many flouting COVID-19 rules. And that did not go down well with netizens.

Prominent leaders, including Sikkim’s lone Lok Sabha MP Indra Hang Subba, were seen cycling alongside the CM’s Political Secretary and Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) spokesperson Jacob Khaling at the event.

The event was supposedly organized by Hamro Varta Television, a mouthpiece of the ruling SKM party. Sources in the journalist fraternity said media persons were not invited to cover the event, barring only a few, allegedly to maintain “minimal social gathering.”

“That is why the flag-off was done early in the morning at about 7 am.”

Netizens in Sikkim had a field day criticizing and trolling the ruling front and the Chief Minister for organising the event, when later in the day Sikkim recorded 205 new COVID cases, breaching the 200-mark in a day for the very first time, with 183 of those cases being recorded in East Sikkim alone.

Gangtok to Rangpo is part of the National Highway route covering most of East Sikkim.

Social media users expressed anger as they left suggestive messages. “Why not hold a Janta Mela for mass awareness,” one wrote.

The cycling event is just one of the many events organized by the Sikkim government and the ruling front where COVID-19 appropriate behaviour like social distancing and wearing of masks in public places doesn’t seem to matter.

Also Read | Sikkim cannot vaccinate 18-45 age group from May 1. Here’s why

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