TECHIES WERE ALLOWED TO BREAK COVID PROTOCOLS FROM DAY ONE

Gangtok 17 Aug: The primary contacts of the IT technicians brought in by the information technology department, and who violated provisions of their stay here, will be screened for COVID-19 today. Among these contacts are MLAs and Heads of Departments.

Sources inform that permission was sought for five such technicians (4 of whom arrived) to enter Sikkim and resolve some glitches at the State Data Centre. It is also claimed that they were supposed to begin work only after undergoing a Trunat test five days after arriving here. They, however, began work the next day itself. They got into Sikkim on 06 August. The Health Secretary has also stated that it was stipulated that they stay at the guesthouse they were lodged in and travel only to their work at the SDC. They, however, called on several HODs and made presentations on the Special Economic Zone being considered by the State Government. Some MLAs were also present for these briefings and they were accompanied to these presentations by the Secretary, Information Technology Department.

Two of the said technicians have tested positive for COVID.

Now we are being told that "legal" (they probably mean 'police') action is being taken against the technicians. Yes, they have much to answer for, but they were essentially doing their jobs. Much more accountability needs to be demanded of the officials who egged them to break stipulations and officials who looked the other way. It does not matter whether this official lapse was caused out of ignorance, incompetence or willful disregard. Sikkim cannot make it a habit of being strict with lay people and indulgent with officials with misplaced priorities.

TECHIES BREAK COVID PROTOCOL, EXPOSE TOP BRASS TO NCOV

Memories of the “out-out, in-in” hilarity of the Sikkim Police were barely fading from Sikkim’s memory that another, potentially more dangerous subverting of COVID-19 protocols by people in high places has come to light. Unlike the Melli episode though, this one has exposed senior State Government officials, including MLAs, to possible Novel Coronavirus infection. That said, the administrative and “legal” action currently being proposed against the individuals and officials responsible will expectedly depend on how the top-brass exposed to the virus fare when they are tested in a week’s time, provided the VIPs are made to wait a week for COVID-screening like the rest of the people.

When word arrived that the Tashiling Secretariat and the Information Technology office had been shut for sanitization after it emerged that people who tested positive for COVID-19 had visited several offices and called on senior officers there, it became clear that some major lapse had occurred somewhere.

Director General and Secretary, Health Department, Dr PT Bhutia, in his daily health bulletin late on Sunday evening informed that two IT technicians, called in to work on resolving some issues at the State Data Centre, had irresponsibly broken clear protocols under which they had been allowed to work here.

The two IT technicians in question, it is informed, had arrived in Sikkim on 06 August and lodged at the Railway Guesthouse at Upper Sichey, Gangtok. While all arrivals are required to go into compulsory home quarantine for 14 days on arrival, this was relaxed for them on the condition that they stay quarantined at the guesthouse and venture out “only” to visit the State Data Centre where work was required.

The duo, however, were allowed to ignore these stipulations and through the week until they both tested positive for the virus, called on several senior government officials and addressed meetings which were also attended by some MLAs where they made presentations about the Special Economic Zone being considered by the State Government.

The Health Secretary was clear that this was in violation of the conditions under which they were allowed to enter Sikkim and carry out their work here. It is obvious that they could not have violated these stipulations unless they had the support of senior officers here. While Dr Bhutia informs that “legal” action has been opened against the duo, it remains to be seen whether the investigation will also look into who facilitated these violations.

As mentioned earlier, if none of the VIPs tests positive, something on the line of the “out-out, in-in” explanation can be expected.