Dharamshala: Health Kalon Choekyong Wangchuk today urged the public as well as the media not to stigmatize the patients of coronavirus, saying that stigma could be more dangerous than the virus itself.
“We must collectively work to shed the stigma around the virus with the right information, sense of unity and compassion, instead of driving people to deny their travel history, medical conditions in the fear of being ostracized and which in turn, creates a more dangerous scenario,” Kalon said addressing the routine COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday evening.
He underscored the importance of understanding that the virus should be vilified not the person, especially from a Buddhist perspective. He welcomed ideas from experts and people in general on how to mainstream messages of unity and empathy in social discourse in relation to the pandemic.
Kalon also highlighted the daily rise in COVID-19 cases, especially within the last 3 days, from June 23 to 25 where it rose by 1000 cases as 15,000 to 16,000 to 17,000, adding that the ICMR predicts COVID-19 cases would peak in the month of November with expected approx of 30 lakh cases. He warned that the Tibetan community should accordingly develop an approach and practice stricter caution as the peak is inevitable.
While he noted that, so far, due to the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA’s proactive approach, the death toll in Tibetans has been marginal, however, he said Tibetans should not forego precautions because of the seemingly mild situation.
Kalon urged the importance of caution as before during the lockdown when measures like curfew, sanitisation, guarding the entryways and registration of passersby are being followed thoroughly.
He noted that as phase 2 of unlock is set to begin for the revival of the economy, more stranded returnees will arrive at the settlements which makes quarantines necessary and likewise, the Tibetan administration’s precautionary measures are being ramped up to appropriately tackle the situation. CTA’s policy of 7 days compulsory institutional quarantine, following which COVID-19 test is conducted, which then, on bearing negative results, the rest of the 7 days of the total 14-day quarantine duration, is advised for home quarantine.
Kalon appealed the Tibetans to follow quarantine norms as per CTA’s guidelines and not violate it, hazarding a crisis.
He also emphasised the dedicated efforts of Settlement officers and directors of branch hospitals, organisations and non-government associations in their participation in local Tibetan emergency committee and towards preventing outbreak within the Tibetan community.
“Out of the 38 cases confirmed, above 95% of them have a travel history from Delhi so anyone arriving from red zones are strictly urged to notify the Settlement officers atleast one week ahead and make prior inquiries about occupancy in the quarantine centres, assume individual responsibility.”
The states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP have a guideline in place for pricing for COVID-19 tests, which has not been established in Delhi even though notice has been issued by the government on the same. In this regard, testing and treatment costs are difficult to bear even for an average-income family. Therefore, everyone is advised to practice what we have been saying that “precaution is better than cure”.
He spoke about CTA’s efforts to conduct swab tests within 5-7 days. “3 health workers from Phende hospital in Hunsur have taken initiative in undergoing training from district centres to conduct the tests to determine the earliest detection. Similarly, here too, efforts are ongoing.”
“In March we made visits to Kangra’s CMO, Delek hospital’s Dr Tsundue and Settlement officer and CTA’s Information Secretary, collectively, have been making every endeavour towards this. Our host government has also been very kind and supportive to provide training making it possible for us to conduct the swab tests. Settlement branch hospitals are urged to make similar efforts.”
“Though as of yet there is no established cure for the disease, we have Tibetan medicines for immune-boosting and Men Tsee Khang has prepared 40 different kinds. Abroad frontline health workers and their family members, the elderly, vulnerable are provided with the immune boosters free of cost. Men Tsee Khang has subsidised 1/3rd of the expenses and specific groups of infected patients’ medicines are provided for free by Men Tsee Khang along with guidance on consumption and precautions. The health department in coordination with Men Tsee Khang has issued a notice in that regard.”