GANGTOK: Days after a homeless man tested positive in Pakyong Bazaar, creating panic and rumours among residents, 33 people from the area, mostly shopkeepers, have now tested positive for COVID-19. With the positivity rate of 7.3% in the hamlet next to Pakyong airport, Sikkim East District administration has declared a lockdown within the same 2-km radius as notified last week.

The 5-day lockdown was scheduled to come to an end on July 18. The District administration, however, notified on Sunday that the town will remain under lockdown ’till further orders’.

Officials said 262 RT-PCR tests were conducted in Pakyong on Saturday, of which where 33 tested positive for COVID-19. The list also includes shoppers and shopkeepers from the nearby Pachey and Dikling villages.

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The youngest patient to test positive in this round of testing includes a 2-year-old from Pakyong, followed by another at 7 years of age. While at least five others are below the age of 18 years, seven of these reported COVID-19 cases are above 45 years, 22 cases between 18-44 years.

Pakyong residents have complained about difficulty in procuring ration and other essentials during the now extended lockdown.

“There were plans for an hour-long opening on Monday, but then again the notification came and we are back at our homes, unable to go to nearby shops for rations,” said a resident.

Local Health officials said a second phase of mass COVID-19 testing will follow on July 20 at Pakyong locations still left out from testing.

Pakyong is an hour’s drive from Gangtok and is one of the most frequently travelled towns from the state capital, owing to its air connectivity with Pakyong Airport.

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