17th CTA Task Force Briefing: 4 new cases this week, total 9 active cases and 55 recoveries

Dr Tsamchoe of CTA Taskforce briefs the latest updates on the pandemic status in Tibetan communitesScreengrab

Dharamsala: At the 17th CTA Task Force briefing held today, Dr Tsamchoe and Dr Tsundue gave the latest updates on the pandemic status of exile Tibetan community, reviewing CTA global initiatives and also issued new guidance for public benefit based on Tibetan SORIG tradition and western medicine.

Dr Tsamchoe updated that 4 new cases were reported this week in the exile Tibetan community: 2 cases from Miao Choepheling settlement, a 37-year-old and a 34-year-old male; and according to current information, besides being confirmed positive, neither have shown symptoms and are receiving treatment in the district hospital; in Delhi, a 34-year-old female has reported positive with mild symptoms and is currently in-home quarantine; lastly, in Ladakh, a 47-year-old male without symptoms, is receiving care at COVID-19 centre.

With 9 active cases, 55 recoveries and 2 death, the total number of cases in the Tibetan communities n India, Nepal and Bhutan stand at 66.

Sharing further details, Dr Tsamchoe said 2 cases were reported from Dalhousie both of which have recovered; Delhi- 20 cases with 2 dead and 14 recoveries, 15 from Mundgod with all recovered, 19 from Ladakh with 16 recoveries and 3 active cases, 1 in Dekyiling who has already recovered. Similarly, 1 recovered in Tuting-1 and Tezu each, Bylakuppe-2 recoveries, Dharamsala- 2 recoveries, Miao- 2 active cases and 1 recovery in Nepal.

The Health Department and settlement emergency committee are in regular contact with the 4 COVID positive patients, 2 of them have already received guidance from the mental health committee.

As per the data monitoring committee, 612 Tibetans are currently in quarantine with 302 in home quarantine and 310 in CTA community quarantine centres. A total of 83 are in Dharamsala with 32 of them in home quarantine and 51 in CTA community quarantine.

In Dharamsala, 28 people underwent swab testing, the results came back negative. Followed by another batch of 20 people whose results are expected tomorrow through the efforts of the CTA and Delek hospital. The settlement-wise data, as of this week, is yet to be compiled.

As per the passive surveillance committee’s report of this week, 1751 people have been covered through the passive screening organised by CTA and other organisations in Dharamsala and none have shown symptoms.

Across 35 settlements in India and 1 in Nepal, 7533 have been covered of which 1748 were elderly and vulnerables and 5775 are in the age group of 65 or above.

Under SORIG immune booster distribution initiative, the Task Force had previously followed the policy of eligibility criteria which has now been scrapped in favour of free distribution to all quarantine residents.

So far the SORIG immune boosters have been distributed to 1344 Tibetans in quarantine, 9513 Tibetan elderlies aged above 65, 676 packages sent to Tibetans based abroad in Minnesota, Belgium and Canada, 464 healthcare workers and frontline volunteers and 457 chronic patients.

A total of 12,416 Tibetans have benefitted from this provision.

Dr Tsamchoe also updated that as part of precautionary measures, sanitisation of public spaces like hospitals, office and others are carried out regularly in accordance with the guidance issued by the Health Department. Sanitisation provisions have been made available to all the offices, organisations successfully.

As per report from Mental health committee, this week the committee has covered over 19 settlements reaching around 400 people all of whom are being provided necessary counselling and guidance.

Issuing special guidance for the public, Dr Tsamchoe emphasised virtual meetings over public gatherings and urged strict adherence to social distancing protocols and proper ventilation in cases of public gathering. She also said that since the virus is confirmed to be airborne the public should wear facemask without fail when stepping outside their homes.

This followed a special briefing by Dr Tsundue who clarified some of the misconceptions and concerns expressed by public.

Responding to concerns about immediate testing on arrival at quarantine, he explained that scientists have confirmed that it takes five days on average for people to start showing the symptoms of coronavirus and further added that the Central government has set the norm for swab testing after the 5th day.

In response to the questions over the accuracy of the tests, Dr Tsundue said that 80% of the test result is accurate but there is 20 percent chance that it is not. “Therefore, it is necessary for people to stay in home quarantine even after the test comes back negative.”

Further adding that antibody testing results are not very useful in determining virus infection, he announced that both CTA community quarantine centre at Nelenkhang and Hunsur Tibetan settlement follow the standard test of RT-PCR as it is now being referred with high reliability as a test to detect COVID-19 virus.

Under Secretary Tsering, Project Coordinator, Department of Health appealed the public to practice daily hygiene routines such as frequent handwash and applying sanitizers, adhering to 1-2 metre physical distancing in public spaces, restricting travel and importantly, wearing 3 layer surgical mask or homemade masks for facemask instead of the valve masks which were proven ineffective.

He also discussed the Health Department’s initiatives to mark the “Year of Gratitude” to His Holiness by establishing health centres and distributing facemasks among local community hospitals and government office as a preventive measure and other projects.

Dr Tsundue during the Task Force briefingScreengrab image
Mr Tsering, Project Coordinator, Department of Health, CTA announces upcoming initiatives of the Health Department in accordance with the “Year of Gratitude” dedicated to His Holiness the Dalai Lama/ Screengrab image