Dharamsala, April 5 – Allaying fears about the possible spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in McLeodganj, the seat of the Tibetan Government in exile, because visitors from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, China and European countries visit Dharamsala and McLeodganj to listen to the discourses of the Dalai Lama the state government has put the Health Department on an alert and directed the Chief Medical Officer to carry out health education counselling and identify and medically examine the visitors from the affected countries.
Disclosing this Ms Chandresh Kumari, Health Minister, said the Chief Medical Officer of Kangra had been directed to get in touch with the Health Ministry of the Tibetan Government in exile so that a coordinated effort could be made to take precautions and keep the people here safe. She said the state government was in touch with the Central Government so that the visitors and pilgrims coming through international flights should be thoroughly checked before being allowed to reach McLeodganj. She said the health counselling was in progress.
Mr Michael Velan, a tourist from Canada, said he had been staying at McLeodganj for the past some time along with many other foreigners from the SARS-affected countries and have not been checked for the virus.
Mr Fabio from Italy, too said he came to McLeodganj from Thailand and neither he nor his friends were checked up for this dreaded virus anywhere in the country.
McLeodganj nowadays was humming with the presence of foreigners despite the fact that the Dalai Lama was not here since yesterday.
Mr Thupten Lungrig, Minister of Religion and Culture Tibetan Government in exile, who is looking after the affairs Tibetan Government in absence of Prime Minister Rinpoche said the people from all over the earth including the USA, Europe, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia besides India visit McLeodganj. He was every apprehensive that SARS may spread from Dharmsala too. Mr Lungrig suggested that the state government should take all effective steps before this dreaded disease spreads.
Dr Rajinder Puri, District Health Officer, said the Health Department had started counselling of the foreigners coming from affected countries in collaboration with the Tibetan Government in exile. He said severe cases would be investigated in Dr R.P. Govt. Medical College Hospital at Dharamsala. He said the department was in touch with the security room for the identification of the foreigners.