Gangtok: In trying to understand the high COVID-19 positivity rate in Sikkim, the government sent 98 samples to a West Bengal lab for genome testing. In what has added to the concerns of Sikkim’s health department now is the result showing 97 of those samples testing positive for the highly transmissible Delta Variant of COVID-19.

Sikkim health minister MK Sharma said on Monday that 98 random samples were sent to Kalyani in West Bengal for genome testing on June 23.

“Of those, 97 samples have tested positive for the Delta Varaint of COVID-19,” the health minister said.

“The Delta Variant is not just highly transmissible, but it makes the patient serious with minimum symptoms. I urge people to come to hospital as early as possible,” Sharma said.

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Sikkim has been at 18.6% in July so far. “We can now conclude that the positivity rate hasn’t gone down because of the spread of Delta Variant in Sikkim. The COVID fatality is at 0.59, which is not so worrisome,” he said.

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The minister added that a total lockdown of Sikkim won’t be possible at this point. “But micro containment of wards and villages is being carried out.

Sharma said the government will now follow up on samples of patients who have already recovered and checked out of hospitals. “This will help us understand high COVID positivity in certain areas and communities of Sikkim in relation to the presence of Delta Variant for better containment measures.”

While there have been reports from other Indian states on the third wave of COVID-19, the health minister insisted that Sikkim was still dealing with the second wave of the coronavirus, with 257 new cases recorded on Monday, taking the total tally to 23,649 cases, of which 2,429 are still active.

“There is chance for more spread. In the second wave, Sikkim has witnessed greater spread, especially in the rural areas. Testing should be more voluntarily. We will do larger scale of testing, to be followed by area specific testing in hotspots. RAT testing in Sikkim and Mobile testing lab has been approved from Ranipool to Gangtok capital region,” said Health Director General-Secretary Pemba Tshering Bhutia.

Also Read | Entire village to be contained if COVID cases found: Sikkim CM



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