A 69-year-old man became the first person in Himachal Pardesh state, as well as the first Tibetan, to die of coronavirus at a hospital in Dharamshala.

RD Dhiman, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare of the state of Himachal Pradesh, informed the public of the death in a press statement.

The deceased was identified as Tenzin Choephel, owner of Himalaya Hotel on Bhagsu road in McLeod Ganj. He had returned from a US along with his wife to on 15 March.

After staying a few days in Delhi, Choephel had returned to McLeod by taxi on 21 March. On the morning of the 23rd he complained of respiratory problems, and was brought to a private hospital in Kangra. He was then taken to Tanda government hospital, where he died.

Suspecting a coronavirus infection, the hospital carried out a test which was found to be positive. All the staff members who came in contact with him at the hospital have been quarantined. All others who he came in contact with have been identified and put in isolation, including the taxi driver from Delhi.

Choephel’s son Tenzin Deden posted this status on his Facebook: “Please take care of your elders and children. They are the most vulnerable to this virus. I lost my most precious one to this virus. Please, please stay safe everyone.”

The Superintendant of Police of Kangra District announced the total lockdown of McLeod Ganj, in which no one is allowed to enter or leave the town, and must remain in their houses. Police personnel have been deployed in the area to enforce the shutdown.

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) have taken measures to stop the spread of the virus, which has caused global health concerns. CTA President Lobsang Sangay announced reduction of staff to more than 50% at the offices of the administration by suggesting work-from-home arrangements.

Other measures, such as closure of Tibetan monasteries, schools. and elder care homes in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, had already been announced earlier.

Himachal Pradesh has two suspected carriers of the virus, both locals of Shahpur, near Dharamshala. They are a 32-year-old man who had travelled from Dubai, and a 64-year-old woman travelling from Singapore. Their test results are awaited.

Tibet Sun has not been able to establish the situation in Tibet due to the restrictions on flow of information by the Chinese government. Lobsang Sangay said earlier this month that he suspected there were more than 100 coronavirus cases in Tibet.

Following the coronavirus outbreak which started in Wuhan, China, in early December, more than 351,300 people have been infected across the world and over 15,300 have died, according to a Reuters tally. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic on 11 March 2020.