Tibetan govt-in-exile on alert after Covid-19 outbreak at Gyuto monastery
After the Covid-19 outbreak at Gyuto Tantric Monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamshala, the Kangra district administration on Wednesday asked the Tibetan government-in-exile to ensure its institutions follow the protocol.
“We have asked the government-in-exile to advise its institutions and Tibetan population to follow the Covid-19 protocol so that any such outbreak can be averted,” said Kangra deputy commissioner Rakesh Kumar Prajapati.
Outbreak after Tibetan New Year festivities
Since last week, 160 monks at Gyuto monastery have tested positive for Covid-19.
Prajapati said investigation into the Gyuto monastery cluster suggests that the outbreak started after Losar, the Tibetan New Year, festivities on February 14.
Fifteen monks, comprising 13 from Karnataka and two from Delhi, were at the monastery from February 16 to 19.
The index case in the monastery was reported on February 23 during random sampling. Since then, 330 samples have been tested of which 160 have tested positive.
Two patients have been shifted to Fortis Hospital in Kangra and one to Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda, while the others, who are mostly asymptomatic, have been isolated at the monastery.
Monks from other states test negative
What has left the health authorities perplexed is the fact that the monks who came from outside Himachal Pradesh have tested negative for coronavirus. “We aren’t sure about the origin of the outbreak as those who came from Karnataka and Delhi have tested negative,” said Prajapati.
He said the test report of 26 monks advised repeat sample were awaited.
The sample report of monastery head Kelsang Gyatso was also awaited.
Palden Dhondup, the secretary of health, Central Tibetan Administration, said the department with Delek Hospitals was taking all measures to deal with the situation.
He said the situation was a concern but hoped the situation would become normal in a fortnight.
Inaugurated in 1996 by the Dalai Lama, Gyuto Tantric Monastery is an important institution of the Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism, where monks study Tantric Buddhism.
The monastery was home to the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, since 2000, after he fled Tibet, to May 2017 when he moved to US and finally acquired citizenship of Dominica, a Caribbean island country, in 2018.