Express Café episode on various aspects of Covid persistency and third wave preparedness in Sikkim

Thursday, Jul 29, 2021 08:00 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Jul 29, 2021 02:18 [IST]

Express Café episode on various aspects of Covid persistency and third wave preparedness in Sikkim

BIJOY GURUNG

GANGTOK,: Different aspects of Covid second wave in Sikkim and preparedness for the predicted third wave were discussed at an Express Café episode broadcasted in digital platforms of SIKKIM EXPRESS on Wednesday evening.
Health minister Dr. M.K. Sharma, Health DG-cum-secretary Dr. Pempa T. Bhutia and senior journalist Pema Wangchuk were the panellists for the talk show hosted by Dr. Satyadeep S. Chhetri.
Sikkim has been consistently showing a Covid positivity rate of over 15% in the second wave. Delta variant, said to be highly contagious, has been attributed to the rise in corona cases in the State while the health experts are concerned about third wave.
As of Wednesday, Sikkim has 3117 active Covid cases with the overall Covid death toll being 333. Among the Covid casualties, around 195 persons have been claimed by the second wave.
In his opening remarks, the Health minister mentioned that the first Covid wave in 2020 went by without causing much damage to the society and people followed the Covid protocols strictly. However, when the second wave started, multiple factors came to play, he added.
The factors into consideration were the disease causing agent (Covid), the host (people) and the environment. Many variants of Covid emerged after the first wave and Sikkim too reported Delta variant cases.
Dr. Sharma pointed out that in first wave, people were not immunized and were dependent only on Covid appropriate behaviour. That saved us but this time, the agent (Covid) is also changing (with variants) and host (people) is also changing with immunisation, he said.
“Sikkim has made tremendous progress in Covid vaccination and our target is early 100 per cent vaccination. That’s our best defence coupled with Covid appropriate behaviours,” said the Health minister.
The most important thing that has come up now is that as more and more people are getting vaccinated, the more they are becoming complacent having a sense of security and show reluctance for testing, said Dr. Sharma. However, people forget that while you are safe due to vaccination, you are becoming a carrier if you don’t self-isolate, he said.
Pema Wangchuk, the consulting editor for Summit Times, said people have to realistic and accept Covid is here.
“I don’t much subscribe to the first wave, second wave, third wave or Delta variant because for an ordinary person, what difference it makes. Whether I get Delta or Alpha variant, I am positive and will be contained. As far common people is concerned, I think it should not be a worry for them about which variant is there… the treatment protocols are same. What I have a problem is that blaming the people like they have become careless, it happened in India and it is happening here,” said Wangchuk.
You have to go a step beyond and see why the people are becoming careless, said Wangchuk observing that it is the failure of media and the awareness campaign that people are not still convinced that Covid is a big problem. “I cannot understand when over 300 people have died in Sikkim due to Covid so far, our people still thinking that it is not a problem. These people would probably have not died now but Covid hastened their deaths, so it is a big failure on our part, so we should not blame people,” he said.
Regarding the third Covid wave, the Health DG-cum-secretary Dr. Pempa T. Bhutia expressed hopes that the third wave could be averted if all maintain Covid protocols and complete vaccination.
“There is a calculation that the third wave may affect the below 18 age group as there is no vaccination for this group. So we need to be prepared on this count. We have already made the policy for the third wave and soon we will take approval and make it public,” said Dr. Bhutia.
Dr. Bhutia shared that the Health department is revamping and upgrading the paediatric ward in STNM Hospital and installing a Covid care centre at SICB building, Karfectar near Jorethang.
In his closing remarks, the Health minister asserted that the State government is working with the people and taking them in confidence to combat the Covid pandemic. He appealed people to follow the Covid protocols both at work place and their homes also.
Wangchuk opined that the government should take people into confidence with its preparedness and trust the intelligence of the people.
If we stay careful, nothing will harm us, said Dr. Bhutia appealing people to collectively follow the Covid appropriate manner. If we work together, we can manage any wave, he said.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi