First batch of 79 stranded Sikkim residents return to state: CM

Gangtok, May 6 (PTI) The first batch of 79 stranded Sikkim residents have returned to the state, Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said on Wednesday.

Most of the returnees were stranded in West Bengal and Rajasthan's Kota due to the lockdown. They were ferried from Siliguri in 10 state transport buses since Tuesday night, he told reporters here.

Special trains carrying stranded persons from Kota had recently reached neighbouring West Bengal.

'The returnees, mostly students, professionals, patients and their attendants, went through screening and health check-up at border check-posts. They will undergo institutional quarantine for 14 days, before being sent to their homes,' Tamang said.

A total of 5,715 stranded persons from Sikkim have registered themselves with the state government's portal for returning to their homes, he said.

'We will facilitate the return of all the stranded persons in a phased manner and none will be left behind,' Tamang said.

However, those attempting to enter the state without undergoing mandatory screening at border check posts will face strict action including registering of cases by the police, he said.

On the Sikkim government's preparedness to deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak, Tamang said two floors of a state-run hospital at Sokeythang near Gangtok have been designated as a COVID-19 facility.

'The facility has a total capacity of 250 beds, including a 40-bed isolation ward and a 20-bed ICU.

'Fifty seven ventilators have been installed and the facility will be equipped with 500 TrueNot testing kits and 2,800 mobile testing kits, of which 1,440 have been dispatched to the medical establishment,' he said.

The state's first coronavirus testing laboratory will be functional from May 15, Tamang said.

On the lockdown's impact on the economy of Sikkim, the chief minister said the state government will soon set up an Economic Revival Committee to deal with the situation. PTI KDK ACD ACD ACD