Virus fear triggers entry bar at Sikkim abbeys
Two Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim have barred visits by tourists in order to check the spread of novel coronavirus, dealing a fresh to the tourism industry that has been reeling from the restriction on entry of foreigners to the Himalayan state.
The Pemayangtse monastery near Pelling in West Sikkim stopped the entry of all international and domestic tourists from Saturday to “check the spread of the infection among students, monks and others”.
The Pemayangtse abbey is one of the oldest and premier monasteries in Sikkim that follow the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, which follows the Karma Kagyu sect of Buddhism, is the second monastery that barred tourists from Sunday. “It is a preventive measure for the safety of those who stay at the monastery. As of now, the restriction has been imposed till April 30,” said a source.
Located 24km from Gangtok in the East district, the monastery is one of the favourite destinations of tourists.
Earlier, Sikkim had restricted the entry of non-Indians and stopped issuing Inner Line Permits (ILPs) needed by foreigners to go to the state.
With the two monasteries barring domestic tourists as well, the tourism industry in the region as a whole is staring at bleak future. “We really don’t know what is further in hold for us. But considering the present situation, we doubt how many tourists will eventually turn up in the region during the summer season,” said Tanmoy Goswami, coordinator, Himalayan Hospitality & Tourism Development Network.
A resident of Alipurduar district was admitted to the isolation ward of a super-specialty hospital in Falakata on Sunday as he showed symptoms of coronavirus infection.
Another resident of the district had got himself admitted to the same hospital on Saturday as he had travelled on the same flight with a US national who was detected positive in Bhutan.
Both the patients had stayed at the same hotel in Bhutan. They are in a stable condition and will be under observation for 14 days, said sources in the district state health department.