11th briefing by CTA COVID-19 Task Force: 5 new cases of Tibetans in India this week


Dharamshala: At the 11th COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Dr Tsering Tsamchoe, representing the CTA COVID-19 Task Force said that five new cases were reported in the Tibetan community in India this week.

“A 47-year-old man from Dalhousie, 43-year-old man from Manju Ka Tilla and 3 from Ladakh including 68-year-old man, 54-year-old man and 19-year-old girl have tested positive with COVID-19 earlier this week,” she said. So far, none have displayed any symptoms nor are any in critical condition.

With this, the total number of positive cases among Tibetans in India is 8: 63-year-old woman from Dalhousie; a 47-year-old man from Dalhousie; 12-year-old student from Tuting; 65-year-old woman from Delhi; 43-year-old man from Delhi; 3 from Ladakh including 68-year-old man, 54-year-old and 19-year-old girl.

She also added that the status of COVID-19 in Tibetan community abroad has improved based on the data received from the Offices of Tibet and concerned health authorities which has so far reveal no new cases this week—suggesting considerable recovery of previously infected cases.

She further updated on the ongoing daily thermal screenings, distribution of SORIG immune boosters, sanitation and the daily monitoring of over 420 Tibetans in the Community quarantine centres across India.

At this stage, the response measures are geared towards prevention and early case detection.

“Both at the Central and Regional level, for the past 2 months, branch hospitals and Tibetan medical centres have been monitoring the situation,” Dr Tsamchoe said. “In view of the COVID-19 cases are peaking in India and the increasing risk of transmission among Tibetan communities,  door to door thermal screenings have been discontinued and instead, passive surveillance is being carried out.”

“In Gangkyi area, in public places and monasteries, a total of 2071 people have been screened through the test kits provided and no symptoms have been reported so far.”

Similarly, sanitization is also being carried out regularly in Tibetan settlements based on the extent of COVID situation in the region mainly denoted by red, orange and green zones.

Taking into account that vulnerable populations such as elderlies, children under 10, and people with co-morbidities are at greater risk from COVID-19, CTA through the Department of Health has been providing free SORIG immune boosters to all Tibetans above the age of 65 with the aim to protect them against COVID-19 infection.

So far the SORIG immune boosters have been distributed to 700 Tibetans at quarantine centres and 1805 elderlies above 65 years of age as per the guidance of the Health Department.

The total number of Tibetans under quarantine is 1011, of which 561 are under home quarantine and 420 at CTA arranged community quarantine centres. There are 83 community quarantine centres set up across 32 Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal.

Currently, in Dharamshala, there are 65 Tibetans at the quarantine centres.

As per the directive of the Government of India mandating compulsory tests for travellers from red zones, 11 Tibetans at Dharamshala quarantine centres have been tested this week and none tested positive.

In addition, total 1062 Tibetans out of 1174 who has remained under quarantine [the number includes those who have already checked out] have been provided mental health guidance by the Mental Health Committee of the Department of Health, CTA. For this week’s training session for the online counsellors, Ms Jacquie Kitty shared her experience, counselling Tibetans in Dharamsala followed by case study discussions.

Healthcare workers in Tibetan settlements are being trained once a week by the Health Department. 7 major and 13 minor branch hospitals have already taken part.

Sowa-Rigpa doctors who are registered under the Central Council of Tibetan Medicine are also trained virtually by an experienced doctor. The 3rd session is expected to be held soon.

The latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of India concerning the operation of offices, religious centres, restaurants, hotels, malls have been partially translated in Tibetan and will be published on the official website of the Department of Health, CTA.

Health Department’s Joint Secretary Tsering Youdon who also spoke at the briefing appealed to both concerned officials and residents to strictly follow the quarantine rules for the safety of oneself as well as of the whole community and not to undo the large-scale efforts being undertaken by the CTA.

She also advised against making any unessential travels as the majority of the 8 new Tibetan cases are linked to travel history from red zone Delhi.

Citing researches indicating 80% of cases as asymptomatic, she advised utmost care and adherence to physical distancing, use of face masks in public spaces, hand and respiratory hygiene, environmental sanitation and protection of elderly and vulnerable population at home.

Lastly, the COVID-19 statistics of India and worldwide as updated at the briefing:

The global toll stands at 7,1,45,539 infected, 4,08,825 deaths across 216 countries.

India reported total of 1,37,448 active cases, 8,102 deaths and 1,41,028 recovery cases which 85% recovery rate.

Of the 36 states affected in India, Maharashtra has the highest toll with 46,086 cases, followed by  19,581 cases in Delhi, 17,182 cases in Tamil Nadu, 5,439 cases in Gujurat, 3,110 in Karnataka, 959 in Orissa, 62 in Ladakh. These are the states with a higher concentration of Tibetan communities.

Himachal Pradesh reported 451 cases, with 6 deaths, 254 recoveries, and 191 active cases.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has listed a population of 5,2,13,140 as tested and 15,1808 as tested in the past 24 hours.

In Nepal, 4364 cases have been reported so far with 614 recoveries, 15 deaths and 3675 active cases. CovidNepal.org, the official COVID-19 website listed 1,15,930 people tested so far.

In Bhutan, 62 cases have been reported, with 18 recoveries, 0 death and 44 active cases.

The data of both Nepal and Bhutan has not revealed any Tibetan infected by the virus.

Visit CTA’s official COVID-19 Emergency Relief Committee website for details.