Sikkim starts Rapid Antigen testing along borders, bans entry of Covid-19+ve security personnel in state

The Sikkim government on Saturday said that army and paramilitary personnel who test positive for Covid-19 won’t be allowed to enter the state.

In a first, the Himalayan state also started Rapid Antigen testing at Rangpo along the Sikkim-Bengal border to gear up its surveillance against the disease. The testing centre was inaugurated by chief minister Prem Singh Tamang.

“The Army and the paramilitary forces will also be tested and if their reports come out positive, they will be returned from the border to their designated quarantine centres in West Bengal,” said a press release issued by the state information and public relation department of the Himalayan state.

Pempa T Bhutia, director general cum secretary of health department said, “With this inauguration, Sikkim becomes the first state in the country to start Antigen Testing for Covid-19 along its borders.”

The state, which shares international borders with China, Nepal and Bhutan, didn’t register a single Covid-19 case till May 22. The first case was reported on May 23 when people started returning after the nation-wide lockdown was relaxed. Till date there no death has been reported.

A senior government official said that till Saturday the total number of positive Covid-19 cases in the state was 160 out of which 13 were army personnel and 45 were from the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF). Sashastra Seema Bal and Indo Tibetan Border Police personnel have also been tested positive.

“The growing number of Covid-19 cases among the army and para-military forces is a major concern for the state. This prompted us to start antigen testing in the border,” said the official.

A senior health official said that a standard operating system for screening at Rangpo has been developed in consultation with the Army and paramilitary forces. The tests are done on returnees upon their arrival at the screening centre at Rangpo.

K Shrinivasulu, principal secretary, health said “The army has already relocated its personnel tested positive to Siliguri where they have 300 bedded health facilities. The SSB also has its health faculty in Kolkata.”

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