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Coronavirus: Himachal Shuts All Educational Institutes, Restriction on Public Gatherings, Celebration of Fairs, Festivals

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Schools Shut Down in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-While the number of persons infected with Novel Coronavirus in India has reached 82 with two deaths, Himachal Pradesh has once again taken a sigh of relief as test report of another suspected case has been confirmed to be negative. The suspected case was admitted to the Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, on Thursday.

The State has not reported any positive case yet, however, circulars have been issued to take preventive measures, especially prevention of any event or activity that is likely to cause huge public gatherings.

The Government of Himachal Pradesh had earlier on Friday ordered restriction on all sort of events in educational institutes till April 15, 2020, as a precaution against the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Yesterday, the Education Minister, Suresh Bhardwaj, had confirmed receiving advisory from the Centre regarding preventive measures to be followed during the period of restriction.

Also Read: How to Home Quarantine 

Today, the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur confirmed that a decision has been taken to keep all government and private schools, play schools, Anganwadis and colleges closed till March 31, 2020,  except for the ongoing examinations.

“There have been reported cases in all the neighbouring states like Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana and Punjab, and, in view of this, for the better enforcement of social distancing measures to prevent community transmissions of the virus, it has been advised by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare that the mass gathering may be avoided or possibly be postponed till the disease spread is contained,”

the notification issued on March 14, 2020.

“All educational institutes including schools, colleges, universities, technical and vocational training institutes, ITI’s Polytechnic, engineering colleges, medical colleges, paramedical training institutes, Anganwadi’s, Creches, pre-nursery schools etc. in the public as well as private sector shall remain closed till March 31, 2020,”

the notification said.  

Similarly, teaching and other group activities in the boarding schools will remain suspended till March 31.

Further, because of forthcoming Navratras and other fairs, the notification said has mentioned directions that adequate number of surveillance personals should be deployed in and around temple premises, adequate hand-washing facilities including availability of soap should be ensured.

The district administrations have been directed to display adequate IEC material at all temples and repeated advisories should be issued advising pubic to refrain from visiting such places unless there are compelling reasons to do so.

Further district administrations have been directed to regulate the entry of people to temple premises to check any congregation of devotees at any spot.

He said over 500 persons have returned to Himachal from foreign countries but none of them has been tested positive so far.

Further, restrictions have been imposed on organization of tournaments, religious events, public celebrations of festivals and fairs to prevent gathering of crowds.

The State Government has also sealed the Lahaul-Spiti-Nepal border to check entry of Nepalese into the district. Two checkpoints have been established for scanning of those who would approach the border, said Agricultural Minister, Ram Lal Markanda.

The Government has also postponed the much-awaited International Paragliding Pre-World Cup that was scheduled to be held during March-April in the Kangra district.  Over 120 paragliders from over 25 countries were to take part in this tournament. The Director of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, confirmed that the tournament will be held in October this year.

COVID-19 is haunting the tourist/hospitality industry as the tourist season is about to begin in April.

The number confirmed COVID-19 cases in India has reached 82. Two deaths have been reported. Both victims were elderly persons, one a 76-year-old Karnataka man and another a 68-year-old woman in West Delhi.

Meanwhile, the worldwide death toll due to coronavirus pandemic has risen to 5,000 with 140,000, positive cases. The numbers are continuously rising in some of the worst-hit countries. In Italy, the number of positive cases was touching 18,000 marks with some 1,266 deaths.

On March 13, 2020, US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the pandemic as the number of positive cases reached over 2,000 with 48 deaths. According to WHO, Europe has become the epicentre for COVID-19.

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Quarantine Facility for Migrant Labourers Responsibility of Industrialist/Contractor: HP Govt

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Himachal-pradesh-new directions for migrant labourer entry

Shimla-As the relaxation in entry and quarantine rules for migrant labourers seems to be backfiring, the Chief Minister Jairam-led Himachal Pradesh Government has come into a damage control mode. Today, the Government said that it has decided that the industrialists or their contractors in the industrial area would be allowed to bring labourers after due approval of the administration. They would be kept in quarantine as per guidelines issued by the Health Department, it said.  

As per the Government directions, big industrial units will have to create adequate quarantine capacity, whereas small units can pool for creating the quarantine facility. The Industries and Labour and Employment Departments have also been asked to keep a strict vigil on industrial units to follow the SOP issued from time to time in this regard, the Government said.

The directions came following a widespread criticism of recent decision taken by the State Government to allow entry of all including tourists to Himachal with merely registering on an online portal and furnishing a COVID-19 negative test report of an accredited laboratory. Any such person did not require any prior permission and their details were confirmed only on their arrival at the State borders.Also, quarantine rules were relaxed for migrant labourers after industries and apple growers faced a shortage of labour due to the return of these workers to their home states amid corona pandemic. However, with an explosion of COVID-19 cases among workers of factories in the BBN area, the government seems to be backtracking to control it. 

All Persons with ILI Symptoms to be Tested

The Chief Medical Officers have been asked to increase the testing capacity of COVID-19 in their respective districts. Directions have been given that all the persons with ILI symptoms should be invariably tested for COVID-19 besides ensuring proper testing of all the primary and secondary contacts of COVID-19 patients.

Temples to Remain Closed for Now

Given the festive season, the State Government has decided not to open the temples and other religious places in the State for the time being to avoid overcrowding.  The officers have been asked to strictly enforce the decision of allowing the participation of not more than 50 persons in marriages and other family functions.

The Government also informed that about 1560 people of the State have arrived from 78 cities of 61 countries to the State after being medically examined. Out of these 1117 persons had arrived at New Delhi Airport, 192 at Amritsar Airport and 248 persons at Chandigarh International Airport. As many as 613 flights were attended by the Officers of the State Government at New Delhi, Amritsar and Chandigarh Airports.

 

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Himachal: After Widespread Backlash, HP Govt Again Make Changes in Rules for Entry, Quarantine

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Himachal Pradesh New Rules for Entry

Shimla-Rules for entry into Himachal Pradesh were again changed by the State Government on Tuesday. After facing widespread criticism over its decision to open the State borders for all including tourists amid sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, the Government has yet again accepted that opening State borders for entry without e-pass or any permission has created problems of its own.

Additional Chief Secretary Health R.D. Dhiman on July 14 said that e-passes are not being issued presently to the people entering the state. They are being allowed to enter the state based on the information they provided, but many people are hiding their proper address and identity, he accepted. Also, instances have been reported where such person entered the state by furnishing fake COVID-19 negative report or lying about their purpose of their visits.

“Keeping this in view now every entrant will have to verify the required information and only after certifying this information they would be registered to enter the state otherwise strict legal action would be taken against them,” said Dhiman informing about the new guidelines.

Further, after the appearance of a record 69 cases in the Baddi area -the industrial hub of the State – on Monday, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur-led State Government has been facing backlash over relaxing quarantine rules for migrant labourers coming to the area.

Also Read: Himachal Reports 78 Cases in Single Day Including Record 69 from Solan Alone

Following this backlash, the State Government was compelled to again make changes in the rules regarding the condition of quarantine for migrant labourers entering the state. 

“The return of industrial labourers has also begun from other states. However, keeping in view the increase of COVID-19 patients due to people coming from other states, it has been decided by the State Government to keep the industrial labourers in either institutional quarantine or in-home quarantine,” Jairam said. 

The contractor and industrial institutions would be completely responsible for it, he said.

“They would be allowed to work after their report for COVID-19 is found negative,” he said.  

It’s pertinent to mention that it is almost impossible for such labourers to follow home-quarantine as they mostly live in shared spaces with common facilities like a toilets/washrooms and water supply. In many cases, they use common toilets located outside their living spaces. 

Further, as per the orders, the inter-state movement of public transport buses would remain prohibited. However, taxis can ply through registration on COVID-19 e-Pass portal. Taxi drivers coming into the State for dropping would be exempted from quarantine if they return within 24 hours of the entry.

Also Read: Institutional Quarantine Mandatory for All Persons Coming from These 20 Cities/Districts of India

The State Executive Committee under Disaster Management Act, 2005 has partially amended orders issued on 2nd July 2020. As per the amendment, the medical colleges would remain closed for final year students from 15th July 2020 in the State. Similarly, Medical Training Institutions would also remain closed. 

As per the amendments, the condition of quarantine for the students and accompanying parents moving in and out of State for competitive examinations has been waived off, if they exist or re-enter the State or vice-versa within 72 hours.

The State Government has also decided that any person having been tested negative for COVID-19 through RT-PCR Test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) by an ICMR accredited/approved laboratory not earlier than 72 hours at the time of entry would also be exempted from the requirement of quarantine.

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Himachal: Institutional Quarantine Mandatory for All Persons Coming from These 20 Cities/Districts of India

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HP Govt new list of high-load cities

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Health Department has revised the list of cities/areas/districts having high-load of COVID-19 cases. Earlier, the government had listed 13 such regions in various states. The updated list has mentioned 20 such cities/districts. All the mentioned places come under the red zone and an institutional quarantine is mandatory from anyone travelling from these areas to Himachal Pradesh.

The updated list includes the following:

  1. Mumbai, Maharashtra,
  2. Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  3. Thane, Maharashtra
  4. Pune, Maharashtra
  5. Hyderabad, Telangana
  6. Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  7. Delhi (All districts)
  8. Bengaluru (Urban), Karnataka
  9. Palghar, Maharashtra
  10. Kolkata, West Bengal
  11. Aurangabad, Bihar
  12. Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu
  13. Surat, Gujarat
  14. Raigad, Maharashtra
  15. Gurugram, Haryana
  16. Nashik, Maharashtra
  17. Thiruvallur, Tamil Nadu
  18. Ranga Reddy, Telangana
  19. Madurai, Tamil Nadu
  20. Faridabad, Haryana

So far, India has reported over 9 lakh infections, which makes it the third worst-hit country after the United States (3,363,056) and Brazil (1,884,967).

The COVID-19 death tally for India was 23,727 till yesterday, 3,11,565 patients are still under treatment, and 5,71,460 have recovered. The rate of increase in the appearance of new COVID-19 cases continues to grow.

Despite the increasing rate and number of cases, Himachal Pradesh Government has opened the State borders for tourists and other visitors without obtaining any permission or E-Pass. All that one needs to enter Himachal and roam around without any restrictions is to present a COVID-19 negative certificate not older than 72 hours and a pre-booking of hotel/homestay for a minimum period of five nights.

The decision of the government to allow tourists amid a sharp rise in cases, both in the State and India, has invited scathed criticism. Even hoteliers in Shimla, Dharamshala, Manali etc. have decided to remain closed despite the government’s permission to resume operation. The SOPs issued by the state government are not acceptable to these hoteliers.

At the same time, relaxation given to migrant labourers in quarantine rules also appears to be backfiring as a large number of such labourers have been tested positive in the industrial hub – Baddi in Solan district. Yesterday, the district reported a record 69 COVID-19 cases, of which 59 were reported from a textile factory.

  

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