Gangtok, March 5 (IANS) The Sikkim government on Thursday suspended issuing Inner Line Permits (ILP) to foreign nationals to prevent any incidences of the deadly disease in the state, where nobody has tested positive for the infection so far.

The state Home Department issued a notification for the purpose.

“In view of rapid spread of coronavirus, no ILP may be issued to foreign nationals, including those from Bhutan, with effect from today,” said the notification, which also declared that the state Tourism and Civil Aviation Department would not issue any permit for travel to the East Sikkim district mountain pass Nathula “with immediate effect”.

It is mandatory for foreign nationals desiring to visit the Himalayan state to procure an ILP from the state government, while Indian nationals have to secure clearance from the state Tourism and Civil Aviation Department to visit Nathula, on the Indo-Chinese border.

On Wednesday, the decision was taken to suspend the ILP at a high level meeting to review and discuss preparedness and action plan for any possible coronavirus outbreak in the state following reports of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in some parts of the country.

“The meeting has decided to suspend all Inner Line Permits (ILPs) issued to visit Sikkim until further notice. The concerned department has been directed to network the information to all stakeholder organisations and offices,” an official statement said after the meeting that was chaired by Chief Secretary S.C. Gupta.

Senior police, health, animal husbandry and transport officials besides the district collectors attended the parleys.

“Gupta also directed the concerned representatives to issue advisory that discourages locals from travelling to affected countries and follow screening and quarantine process for the ones coming back to the state from abroad.

“He also suggested deploying additional police force at check-posts along with the well-trained and equipped medical team for efficient screening,” it said.

Already, people in the state with recent travel history to China or other affected country are being traced, tracked and kept under observation.

State and district Rapid Response Teams and infectious disease managing committees have also been formed.

The government has stated that over four lakh passengers arriving in the state have been screened so far for the infection, and no positive case detected.

–IANS

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