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Sikkim is all set to make RT-PCR testing at the new Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory at STNM Hospital fully functional from Sunday.

This was informed by director general-cum-secretary Health Department, Dr P T Bhutia while explaining about the status of the testing for COVID-19 during a review meeting on Saturday.

The high level review meeting was chaired by chief minister Prem Singh Tamang at Samman Bhawan in Gangtok.

The meeting reviewed the present scenario of COVID-19 in the State and deliberated on various aspects related to the State’s response to the pandemic as well as future course of action post fourth phase of lock-down.

In his address, the chief minister stated that the State Government has been successfully handling the COVID-19 situation so far and added that the State is fully equipped to deal with any exigencies.

Speaking about the process of evacuation, he said the State Government is preparing a special strategy to evacuate the people stranded in Maharashtra and Mumbai, considering the increasing rate of infection there.

He appealed to the people to be maintain patience.

The chief minister maintained that the State is not out of danger, and there should be complete compliance of the lockdown guidelines.

He added that this is the time for the people of Sikkim to be extra cautious and strictly abide by lockdown guidelines as done during the first phase.

He announced that the State Government will put a complete ban on inter-district movement of vehicles and people from June 1 to 15.

He said that the intra-district movement will continue with the odd/even formula.

The chief minister said this is being done to ensure complete safety for the people of Sikkim.

He also announced that educational institutions will not be able to resume from 15 June as per the earlier decision of the Government owing to the prevailing situation.

He directed the Education Department to ensure that all the educational institutions in the State to be made ready to start functioning from July 1.

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He added that college and university students who are stranded outside the State will not be allowed to return before June 15.

He further added that the respective institutions will be requested to prepare their own quarantine facilities and same will also be applied to all the pharmaceutical companies in Sikkim.

Tamang suggested that students from bordering states studying in Sikkim should be allowed to make their home state as their examination centre.

He directed the Education Department to immediately prepare a proposal in this regard.

He reiterated that the commencement of RTPCR testing from tomorrow was good news for the State.

“This will ease the load being faced by the State especially with regard to the backlog of existing samples,” he stated.

He informed that out of the six people in DKK Bhawan New Delhi who had tested positive for COVID-19, five people have fully recovered.

He appealed to the people of Sikkim not to panic, and continue to abide by social distancing and all safety norms.

Earlier, the chief secretary, S C Gupta presented an overview of the steps taken by the State Government to handle the COVID-19 situation in the State.

He informed that all aspects, such as evacuation, screening, quarantine and testing are being handled with utmost efficiency.

Sagar Chhetri

Sagar Chhetri is Northeast Now Correspondent in Gangtok. He can be reached at: