(Eds: Adds inputs, health minister's quotes) Gangtok, Jul 19 (PTI) At least 257 more people tested positive for COVID-19 in Sikkim in the last 24 hours, taking the tally in the state to 23,649, a health department bulletin said on Monday.
Of the fresh cases, 111 were reported from West Sikkim, 80 from South Sikkim, 65 from East Sikkim and one from North Sikkim.
Several cases of Delta variant of coronavirus have been detected in the state, health minister Dr MK Sharma said.
'The presence of Delta variant cases could be the reason behind the high positivity rate in the state during the second wave of COVID-19,' he said.
Ninety-eight samples were sent for genome sequencing to a lab in neighbouring West Bengal last month, and 97 of them were found to have Delta variant, he told reporters on Monday.
He said Delta variant is 'highly transmissible' with the potential to aggravate the COVID-19 situation in the state.
People should understand the gravity of the situation, arising out of the detection of Delta variant cases in Sikkim and they must follow all the guidelines issued by the state government, the minister said.
Sharma said the government has been doing its best to bring the COVID situation under control.
He, however, ruled out imposition of a complete lockdown in Sikkim again, and said that authorities have been managing various micro containment measures in cities and villages.
Sikkim currently has 2,429 active cases, while 20,634 people have recovered from the disease and 262 patients migrated to other states.
The recovery rate among coronavirus patients in the state stands at 88.2 per cent.
The death toll remained at 324 as no new fatality due to the infection was reported in the last 24 hours, the bulletin said.
The Himalayan state has so far conducted 1,80,353 sample tests for COVID-19, including 1,335 since Sunday.
The minister said the vaccination drive is going on in full swing in the state with 70 per cent of the adult population receiving their doses. PTI KDK BDC BDC