President Dr Lobsang Sangay addressing the press on the death of the first exile Tibetan infected by Wuhan-origin, Covid-19 in Dharamshala, India, March 23, 2020. Photo: CTA/DIIR

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Dharamshala, India — 'The samples of close contacts of the deceased Tenzin Choephel, 69, have all tested negative,' said Dr Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), during his latest press briefing on Coronavirus, a global pandemic which originated in Wuhan, China.

Jamyang Choegyal Kasho, a Tibetan author of the book title, Choegyal Nyima Lhundrup Kashopa: In the Service of the 13th and the 14th Dalai Lamas: Untold True Stories of Tibet" perhaps becomes the first Tibetan in-Exile to die from the Wuhan-Coronavirus, while three other Tibetans who currently living in France, Switzerland, and Italy have been reported as the latest to test positive for the Chinese-virus.

However, the previously reported about the deceased Tibetan, death of the first exiled Tibetan from the Coronavirus unlikely to accurately reflect the individual's whole situation, as all close contacts of the deceased patient including family members and friends as well as two taxi drivers, all have tested negative.

As the world continues to battle what’s being described as the worst public health crisis in recent history—the Wuhan-origin COVID-19, some reassuring news has emerged for the people of Himachal Pradesh with regard to the containment of the disease.

“This comes as a piece of positive and reassuring news for everyone in Himachal Pradesh and especially for Tibetans. Furthermore, as per our confirmation with the DC office, as of now there are no new cases of COVID-19 in Himachal Pradesh,” the President said.

Among those whose samples were taken today were family members and friends, two taxi drivers and a family who’d travelled with the patient. There are also no known cases of infections among those who stayed at the same hotel as the patient in Manjuka Tilla, Delhi.

“The list of the persons has been shared with all the concerned settlement offices and so far, we have received no cases of infections,” Dr Sangay said during a briefing on Coronavirus, a global pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China.

Sadly, a senior Tibetan had succumbed to coronavirus, in London, March 24, 2020, at 1.25 p.m. local time, according to information from the concerned Office of Tibet. "The deceased, Kashopa Jamyang Cheogyal was a renowned Tibetan scholar based in London who passed away due to coronavirus," it said.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and ask Tibetans worldwide to remember him in prayers,” President Dr Sangay said as he presented a brief bio of late Kashopa Jamyang Choegyal. “He will be remembered for his incredible service and contribution to Tibet and the Tibetan cause,” President Dr Sangay added.

“Kashopa Jamyang Choegyal was a reputed Tibetan scholar and translator with a great command over Tibetan, Chinese and English. He studied in Darjeeling, India and did further studies in Beijing. Late Kashopa Jamyang Choegyal had served in Tibet as well in exile, bringing tremendous impact to the lives and welfare of the people.”

Concerning the cases of infections among Tibetans, Dr Sangay said that there are reports of 3 Tibetans from France, Switzerland, and Italy to have been infected with COVID-19. “I urge everyone once again to practice social distancing and follow the prescribed precautionary measures to protect yourself and your loved ones from this disease,” he said.

In the meantime, the Kashag administration has allocated a total of 30 lakh (8 lakh plus 22 lakh) for coronavirus-related spending and has constituted a coronavirus task force to provide support and response to Tibetan communities in tackling COVID-19.

The task force is presided by Kalon Choekyong Wangchuk, Dept of Health and two former personal physicians of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Dr Tseten and Dr Tamding and several other health professionals.

The CTA also said that the following is an urgent announcement for Tibetans with foreign passports currently in India.

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic worldwide and the imposition of curfew and lockdown all over India, many Tibetans holding foreign passports may be stranded in the country. Here in Himachal, Kangra’s district authority has advised submission of the list of all Tibetans who have entered India on or after February 15, 2020. Therefore, all Tibetans falling under said category should register themselves with our Security office (Mr Kalsang of Desung office @ 9882255209) and provide the detailed information at the earliest.

Tibetans with a foreign passport in other regions in India and Nepal, who had entered the regions on or after 15th February, are also requested to register themselves with the nearest Tibetan Settlement office and provide the above-listed information at the earliest. The Settlement offices should file the list to the local FRRO / SP office.

As per the directives issued by the Central and local government of India, one could face penalties including imprisonment for not reporting your arrival in India after 15th February. Tibetan administration and local Tibetan settlement offices may not be able to help secure visa extension and exit permit later if registration is not done as per the directives.