Monday, Mar 30, 2020 13:45 [IST]
Last Update: Monday, Mar 30, 2020 07:54 [IST]
Sikkim govt fully prepared to tackle coronavirus and to ease public hardships during lockdown: CM
GANGTOK: Chief Minister P.S. Golay on Sunday gave a nearly 50-minute live address on Facebook detailing to the people of Sikkim the steps taken by his government against coronavirus spread and ongoing 21-day lockdown. He repeatedly appealed the people of Sikkim to stay confined indoors and to cooperate with the State government as social distancing is the only known method to break the chain of coronavirus.
“During this lockdown, people are facing many difficulties and hardships. There is no vaccine so far for coronavirus, the only option now is to maintain social distancing. Hence, I appeal that we must stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus and follow the orders given by the State government. We are working hard but we need support of the people to tackle this virus. Everyone will be affected if anyone does not follow the government orders and do not stay confined,” said the Chief Minister.
Condemning the efforts made here to ‘politicize’ coronavirus, Golay said the time now is to stay united and stressed that the Sikkim government is fully prepared on both fronts – to medically tackle coronavirus and to ease public hardships during the lockdown period. He maintained that the Sikkim government had taken preventive measures much earlier than the rest of the country when early reports of coronavirus in Wuhan, China started coming.
“I had directed the Health department to start screening of people at the checkposts starting January 28. We did this at a time when no other States were taking such preventive steps. We stopped Sikkim entry of foreign tourists from March 5 and then entry of all domestic tourists from March 17,” said Golay. This was followed by intensified screening and documentation of arrivals at Rangpo and Melli checkposts and closure of other border entry points.
To a question how capable is Sikkim should coronavirus case comes up in the State, the Chief Minister said the Sikkim government is fully prepared for such a situation. Our mechanism is ready, he said detailing the medical infrastructure in place from the State government. He informed that 166 beds are ready to take up coronavirus cases at STNM hospital here while CRH, Tadong has 20 beds and Army hospital at Libing here has 41 beds.
Golay shared that STNM hospital has 55 ventilators, CRH has two ventilators and Army hospital has two ventilators. He also informed about the quarantine centres established by the Centre at SIRD Karfectar, Minging Ground near Rangpo, Power Guest House at Nayabazaar, and SICUN training centre, Assam Lingzey.
The Chief Minister dismissed claims that the Health workers are facing shortage of PPEs (personal protective equipment) and other protective materials. There are 1220 PPEs ready with the government but if we started wearing PPEs now at the present situation, people will unnecessarily panic and hence, we have not started, he said. He maintained that there is sufficient other medical items as required by the Health workers and those deputed in essential and emergency services.
The Chief Minister said there are sufficient food grains available in the State food godowns that can last for three months for the entire population of Sikkim.
Regarding students and professionals from Sikkim presently stranded in other parts of the nation during the lockdown, the Chief Minister appealed them to stay at their respective locations since no inter-State movement is allowed during the lockdown period. “We are in touch with our students and people who could not return home before the lockdown started. We are talking with the respective governments to provide facilities to our people. I have written to every Chief Minister of the country and have requested them to take care of our people,” he said.
Golay shared details of the economic and food relief package announced by the State government for the BPL and underprivileged sections of the society affected by the lockdown. The food relief package is also for those workers from outside the State presently working here, he said. He cleared that the relief package is not for government servants.
The Chief Minister also took up questions fielded by the citizens and media.
One question was whether the State government could opt for mass testing for coronavirus based on reports that a Pune-based company has developed testing kits at affordable rates.
Golay replied that if the report can be confirmed then the State government will definitely do testing of the entire population in Sikkim.
Regarding whether the lockdown will be extended, the Chief Minister said it will depend on the situation after April 14.
There was also a question on providing monetary relief to small entrepreneurs and those dependent on tourist who have taken a hit due to coronavirus and lockdown.
On this, the Chief Minister said the government will consider this in coming days. We cannot say at the moment how long this situation will last, he said.
A question was placed whether the State government can consider taking volunteers or senior medical and nursing students as a backup force in the present situation, the Chief Minister said the State government will take up this suggestion. We welcome anyone who comes on voluntary basis, he said.
The Chief Minister stressed that the State government has not allowed anyone enter Sikkim through the checkposts during the lockdown barring transporters bringing essential and medical supplies. We have not allowed any outsider to enter Sikkim, he said.
The Chief Minister informed that he will be addressing the people of Sikkim on social media after every three days to inform about the steps being taken by the State government.