Gangtok, 24 Aug:

The State Task Force for the COVID-19 situation directed today that suitable action be taken after examining the reply to show cause notice issued to Secretary Information Technology for allowing meetings in violation of COVID guidelines.

This was decided at a meeting of STF chaired by Chief Minister PS Tamang [Golay] to take stock of the present situation and to deliberate on issues that require urgent attention, an IPR press release informs.

The deadline to the show-cause notice was 18 August, six days back. It is not clear whether the State Task Force meeting was informed about the explanation offered by the officer or what the Chief Secretary’s [who had issued the show-cause notice] official position to the explanation is.

The IT Secretary, it may be recalled, had secured relaxations to allow the entry of four supposed IT Technicians to carry out maintenance work at the State Data Centre. She, however, went on to escort these technicians while they made presentations on the Special Economic Zone to senior officers and MLAs. They tested positive for COVID and exposed all they can in contact with to the virus. Thus far, four of their primary contacts have tested positive.

The STF’s directions notwithstanding, the Secretary was today transferred out as OSD [Projects] under the Department of Planning based out of New Delhi.

The meeting also decided that no changes be done to the existing rules government inter-state travel. The fuzzy language of a recent communiqué to all chief secretaries by the Ministry of Home Affairs had led to much confusion in Sikkim with regard to inter-state travel. Currently, the borders are open only for Sikkimese returnees, essential goods and essential services.

The State Task Force also resolved that strict action be taken against the management of Alkem Pharmaceutical from where 29 employees placed under quarantine had recently fled.

It was emphasised that the responsibility of ensuring compliance of all the prescribed guidelines by the Central and State Government lies on the management of the Pharmaceutical company, the release adds.

The meeting also decided to identify quarantine centres exclusively for pharma employees returning from other States.

It was also decided that the cost of the accommodation, food and testing be borne by the respective companies.

The same will also apply for labour contractors bringing labour force from other States. In both the cases, the returnees should be kept on strict quarantine for 14 days.

Movement of Pharmaceutical company employees will be regulated from home to company and back and they should follow strict home quarantine protocol, the STF has directed.

While directing that the 3-member Fact-Finding Committee constituted to examine the recent deaths at CRH, Tadaong, to submit its report at the earliest, the STF has also directed Health Department to thoroughly examine the reported incidents of medical negligence at STNM Hospital and immediate action against the defaulter.

The Health Department will also prepare non-Covid Standard Operating Procedures to facilitate smooth functioning of all non-Covid services at hospitals in the State.

Meanwhile, the TB Building at STNM Hospital, which is nearing completion, will be converted into a COVID Hospital and the main building will cater to all non-Covid services, the meeting decided while adding that a fixed set of doctors will be identified for Covid duty and that the same team will be deployed on rotation basis.

Local returnees will be screened at the borders and sent for home quarantine if they meet the criteria and a constituency-level committee will be setup under the supervision of each BDO to ensure that all the guidelines of home quarantine are adhered to.