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Sikkim orders rapid testing kits for cluster-level tests

By A Correspondent

GANGTOK, April 15 - Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang has said that the State Government had placed an order for rapid testing kits for speedy detection of COVID-19 cases.

He said these kits, which can give the results in about 30 minutes, would be used for cluster-level testing.

Addressing media persons after chairing a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Tamang said the State and District Task Forces were constituted to spearhead the prevention drive.

The Cabinet meet reviewed the steps taken so far to combat COVID-19 and the extension of the lockdown till May 3.

On the State�s preparedness, the Chief Minister said the State is fully equipped to tackle the crisis.

He stated that three floors of the STNM Hospital at Sochyagang have been dedicated for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

He expressed his gratitude to the people of Sikkim, government officials, and frontline workers for their relentless service towards keeping the State free from COVID-19.

The Chief Minister said the lockdown would be stricter this time and urged the people to take it more seriously.

He, however, added that slight relaxation could be made for certain sectors like agriculture, construction and small industries after April 20.

He suggested that local labourers could be deployed in these industries in place of labourers stranded outside the State.

The Chief Minister stated that only two vehicles per gram panchayat would be allowed to operate � one for essentials and the other for medical purposes. Passes for vehicles will be centrally issued by the District Collectors, SDMs and BDOs.

The Chief Minister announced an honorarium of Rs 5,000 each for ASHA workers in view of their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the State.

Tamang said the State Government had started screening of people for COVID-19 much before other States and stopped issuing inner line permits in the first week of March.

The State�s international borders were sealed on March 5 and domestic tourists were barred from entering the State on March 17.

Two check posts at Reshi and Rambam along the inter-State border with West Bengal were sealed and only two border check posts at Rangpo and Melli were kept open after deployment of adequate manpower only for entry of vehicles transporting essential items and medical supplies.

The Chief Minister said that more than 1,000 students stranded outside the State have been provided financial assistance. Likewise, people who are undergoing medical treatment outside the State are also being provided financial aid.

He further added that all educational institutions would remain closed till May 3.

On the distribution of relief materials, the Chief Minister stated that the Government has notified essential items to be distributed to the poor and disadvantaged, which is over and above the assistance being provided by the Central Government.

He added that the State Government has been distributing relief materials to the daily wagers, migrant labourers and BPL category people without any discrimination.

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