Dharamshala: At the routine 18th taskforce briefing, Deputy Secretary Nyima Gyaltsen of Health Department, Dr Tenzin Namdon of Delek Hospital and Dr Tsering Tsamchoe updated the pandemic status, reviewed measures undertaken by the CTA and shared relevant guidance for public awareness.
Deputy Secretary Nyima Gyaltsen issued the new quarantine guidelines for Tibetans, the previous guideline was directed for May and June when returnees were coming home in large numbers that overcame the allowed capacity of quarantines centres and returnees can be accommodated in-home quarantines provided adequate arrangements compliant with quarantine standards are followed with the approval of the Settlement Officer. Since the number of returnees has trickled down, the Health Department has now made it mandatory for all returnees to get checked into Nelenkhang quarantine centre after duly informing the Settlement Officer and additionally, for CTA staff to get a supporting letter from their respective department.
Secondly, in a new directive dated July 27, the state government requires the army, navy and airforce personnel to check into community quarantine centres while previously servicemen were allowed to observe home-quarantine.
Thirdly, physical movement during the day has noticeably increased with youngsters venturing outside for picnic which the Deputy Secretary strictly advised against.
Acknowledging the great work of the supervisors at the quarantine centres, he advised them to continue the dedicated service and not be dispirited by criticism.
He once more appealed for individual responsibility in informing the Settlement Officer and the emergency committee when returning to a home state and to check into quarantine centres which ensures the detection of positive cases. He urged settlements to continue the commendable initiative to guard and register the entry and exit of residents and follow health guidance diligently.
Briefing on the status of COVID-19 in the Tibetan community, Dr Tsamchoe shared that 4 new cases had been reported within this week. A 25- year-old man in Dharamshala, A 40 and 50-year-old woman in Ladakh, and a 47-year-old man in Mundgod taking the total number of cases to 70 in both India and Nepal.
Among the cases, Dr Tsamchoe reported that 60 people have been recovered, 2 deaths, and 8 active cases.
All those active cases individuals are being well attended by the special COVID-19 committee of respective settlements, SOWA RIGPA practitioners, and the COVID-19 Emergency and Mental Health Counseling Helpline.
“The Health Department sees the quarantine as an utmost need of the day to slow the spread of the virus and therefore requests arrivers from outside zone to comply with the set guidelines,” said Dr. Tsamchoe.
In regard to individuals in quarantine, Dr Tsamchoe reported a total of 519 are in quarantine. Out of the numbers, 302 individuals are in-home quarantine and 217 number of people are in the facility set by CTA.
Meanwhile, settlement wise passive screening was conducted on a total of 7520 people.
As for the distribution of SORIG immune booster, Dr Tsamchoe noted that it is being distributed to all those in quarantine, above 65 years old individuals, front liners, and those with health issues. To Tibetans abroad, 946 immune boosters have been distributed till now.
In regard to preventive measures in the settlements, routine sanitisation is being carried as usual among other needful steps.
The MHA of India has recently announced the imposition of the unlock 3.0 starting August 1, 2020. As per the new guidelines, lockdown will remain imposed in the containment zone till 31 August with strict maintenance of social distancing and other norms. In places other than containment zone, restrictions on movement have been relaxed however schools, colleges, and places of the gathering are to remain closed till August 31.
Dr Tenzin Namdon clarified about the new guidelines issued by the Central government regarding the use of valved N-95 facemasks. She explained that while the valved N-95 masks were effective in filtering the inhalation of air particles, it does not ensure the filtration of the exhaled air particles or the virus in case of a COVID-19 positive person from endangering others’ health. Therefore, the new guidance prescribes the use of N-95 masks for healthcare workers and caretakers of the infected persons while surgical masks and homemade masks are advised for the general public.
She also shared that N-95 masks required chemical disinfection and radiation for reuse, alternatively, surgical and homemade masks can be reused by washing after every use with warm water and soap for 20 minutes and exposure to sunlight and ironing it afterwards at high temperature.
She added that any type of facemask should fit one’s face properly, covering the entire region from the nose to the chin and advised against touching the outer part of the mask where all the germs collect or leaving it suspended at the neck which is exposed to the germs. Additionally, she emphasised the proper removal of the facemask which is to lift it from the strings and washing hands after doing so.
Specifically to heavy smokers, she informed about the link between smoking and COVID-19, which is especially destructive to lung functioning and damages the immune system and advised to quit the habit altogether for health safety.