Gangtok: Observing that a ‘meagre’ 14 lakh COVID-19 vaccines would be required, the High Court of Sikkim urged the government to make untiring and proactive efforts and obtain the requisite doses so that the entire population of the state can be vaccinated at the earliest.

The high court was hearing a PIL on COVID-19 management on Friday.

“This becomes imperative in view of the peculiar circumstances of the state in as much as the foot-fall of tourists sometimes outnumbers the residents of a town and the availability of the medical infrastructure or the lack of it has to be thereby taken into consideration making the vaccination of the population an urgent requirement,” the high court noted.

Looking at the current COVID-19 situation in Sikkim and mortality rate of patients, the HC highlighted how the vaccination programme is a cause of concern for the state.

The population of the entire state stands at a meagre number of approximately seven lakh, the HC said.

The court was informed by the state government that “currently, vaccines are not available for the 18-44 age group whose population reportedly stands at only 2,90,000”.

“The total requirement of vaccines for this age group stands at only 5,80,000,” the government said.

The state government expect 15,230 vaccines to be made available by this month to the STNM Hospital while 24,000 vaccines are expected in the Central Referral Hospital by next week.

The HC also questioned the state government on the required policies in place to deal with the third wave in order to shield the population of Sikkim from its repercussions.
The additional advocate general said: “The State Level Task Force has been constituted in March 2020 under the chairmanship of the State Chief Secretary, to monitor the preparedness besides which meetings are held regularly to review the situation.”

Also read: Establish VRDLs in all 4 districts of Sikkim in 90 days: HC

The High Court of Sikkim observed, “The preparedness should also be in terms of augmented medical infrastructure, human resources and otherwise. We do not seek to undermine the working of the State Level Task Force, however, we are concerned that no policy has been envisaged till date for the purpose of dealing with the third wave, God forbid, should there be one.”

The state government also said that it has developed an ICU in Namchi District Hospital, which is operational. “Currently, 10 ICU beds for general patients have been converted into COVID-19 dedicated ICU beds,” it said.

To this, the high court said: “Hospital cannot be devoid of ICU beds for general patients.

Elsewhere for North Sikkim, it is reported that three ICU beds have been earmarked in the existing facility functioning as a District Hospital. The court observed, “This number is abysmally low considering the number of COVID-19 patients in North Sikkim.”

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