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In a Letter to CM Jairam, Citizen Points Out Loophole in Processing People Returning to Himachal on State Borders/Barriers

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Shimla-A sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh during the last six days can be attributed to the lack of a concrete strategy and haphazard manner in which people stranded in other States were being allowed to enter the State. Himachal Watcher had reported this mismanagement at the Mehatpur-Una border two weeks ago with a warning that the lockdown of 40 days could go in vain if the mass entry of people continued to be allowed without proper management and planning.

After A Strict Curfew/Lokcdown of Over A Month, This Shouldn't be Happening

It would be frustrating for the people of #Himachal and Punjab to face a curfew and lockdown for over a month for nothing. To get a more clear picture of what we are talking about, watch this video showing the scene at the Mehatpur-Una boarder and listen to what people standing in crowded queues said. #HimachalPradesh #COVID19Himachal #HPGovt #Una #Punjab CMO Himachal

Posted by Himachal Watcher on Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Now, a citizen of the State has also reported similar mismanagement at the barriers/checkpoints on boarders and wrote a letter to the Chief Minister with hand-drawn illustration.

A few days ago, along with thousands of others stranded in other States returning to Himachal Pradesh, With her brother, Ojasvi Jagitha had also lined up at the Parwanoo and Shoghi barriers/checkposts. Both of them were stranded in Panchkula for 45 days and followed the lockdown strictly by remaining at home.  They were confident that none of them had any chance of getting infected while they were inside their house. But, while going through the process of registering details and screening at barriers, Ojasvi noticed a loophole in the arrangement made which could be avoided easily. Now, after coming in contact with other people at the barrier, both are more scared of getting infected and feeling less safer than it did when locked up inside the house in Panchkula.   

Currently, Ojasvi and her brother are under home-quarantine with their family in Shimla as per the guidelines for the people returning from outside the State.

However, Ojasvi wrote a letter to Chief Minister Jairam Thakur to highlight this loophole, which could increase the risk of COVID-19 spread at such barriers on the State borders as well those within the boundary of the State.

She expressed her gratitude towards the State Government for allowing the stranded people to return to their homes. But she also expressed her concern.

“Yesterday, when I came back, I felt really threatened because of the process one has to go through while coming back. Of course, the process of check-in and medical check-up is very necessary for people returning. But there is something wrong with this process which can lead to a horrible situation,”

Ojasvi wrote in the letter.

She pointed out that although all persons returning have furnished all information while applying for E-Pass, the people had to manually register data at barriers again. There is no separation of people coming from red, orange or green zones. Social distancing is hardly being followed.

“While going through the whole procedure of checking, I feel scared. I am scared for myself and my family and my locality as I might have contracted the infection as I came in contact with hundreds of other people who had arrived from different zones at the barrier,”

she wrote.   

In her letter, with the help of hand-drawn illustration of Parwanoo and Shoghi barriers, she gave some suggestions to fix this loophole.

Stranded Himachalis returning to himachal pradesh

First, the people should be shortlisted for medical examination based on the zones they are coming from as this information is already taken while applying for the pass. This way, a person coming from a green and orange zone would not get mixed with those coming from red zones.

The process of clearance at the barriers could be made safer if the manual procedure of writing down details at these barriers again after filling the same details while applying for the pass can be avoided. Through a centralized system, the details of people having passes can be verified digitally. It will not only lessen the risk of contracting infection but also save a lot of time at barriers.

Then, there are the queues for thermal scanning where people come in contact with each other. One infected person could trigger a chain reaction due to these queues. She suggested conducting thermal screening and checking in vehicles so that long queues could be avoided.

COVID checking at shoghi barrier

While sanitization of vehicles, sanitization tunnels can be installed for the persons going for the medical check-up. She also suggested increasing the number of people being tested, especially those returning from the red zones.

She also pointed out that police personal and healthcare workers didn’t have PPEs, which makes them highly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

The Government appeared to have listened to one of this suggestion – testing all persons coming from red zones. Ojasvi hopes that the Chief Minister would also take note of other suggestions she gave in the letter.

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Himachal: Daily New COVID-19 Cases Crosses 1000 Mark, State Govt Directs Admins & Police to Show Strictness in Implementing SOPs

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Himachal Pradesh daily COVID-19 update april 12

Shimla– Reeling under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh continues to report a huge surge in daily new cases and fatalities. On Monday, the state recorded 1089 cases – the highest in 24 hours this year. Nine more people succumbed to the infection, taking the COVID-19 death tally to 1111. Highest three deaths were reported from Una district, followed by Mandi (3).  View more details on fatalities below:

covid-19 deaths

Kangra district reported the highest 249 cases, followed by Solan (166), and Lahaul-Spiti (114). Find more district-wise details below:

himachal pradesh covid-19 surge

Source: HP NHM

Today’s cases also include former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh, who tested positive. Earlier, his son Vikramaditya had also tested positive for COVID-19. Pertinent to mention that Vikramaditya Singh had campaigned in the Municipal Corporation elections that were concluded on April 7. 

Further, 18 cases were reported from Pine Grove School, Solan. 

The state government, which had been mostly showing a casual approach towards the surge since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic, is now coming hard on it in its review meetings.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is now asking elected representatives of the local bodies to ensure that the people strictly follow the SoPs regarding temples and marriages.  The PRI members are being directed to motivate and advise the old people, those with co-morbidity to avoid going to public places as they are most prone to this virus.

“Such persons must be reverse quarantined meaning that their movement outside their houses should be minimized to the extent possible,” Chief Minister today said.

Yesterday the state government had made it mandatory for people arriving from seven high load states to carry RT-PCR negative report. The decision would apply from April 16 onwards, the government had decided.  However, he had added, that the state would remain open for tourists.

Chief Minister has asked the representatives of the PRI to keep an eye on the people visiting from other State, particularly from the high load states.

“As far as possible such people must be asked to remain in home quarantine for 10 to 14 days and getting themselves tested for COVID-19 and should not mix with the general public of the area,” he said.

The Transport Department was directed to ensure the sanitization of buses and other public transport.  Shopkeepers were told to strictly follow the ‘No Mask, No Service’ policy. Private bus operators were also asked to properly sanitize their buses and also ensure plying buses without overcrowding.

District administrations were asked to ensure that social functions such as marriages etc. strictly follow the maximum limit prescribed for such events.

Chief Minister said that action if required could be taken against the violators.

The District administration of Kullu district was directed to ensure that all the tourists visiting the district strictly follow SoPs issued from time to time. He told the administration that all the guidelines need to be followed and implemented strictly.

He said that the Ayurveda Department must also provide ‘kada’ to the patients under home isolation. The Police Department was directed to ensure that no casualness be adopted by the tourists, particularly in tourist spots such as Manikaran, Kasol, Manali etc.    

Deputy Commissioner Mandi Rugved Thakur, informed that 1,33,878 total sample done in the district, active cases were 443 and positivity ratio was 8.25 percent and fatality rate 1.2 percent. He said that 51 per cent cases in the district were from urban areas.

 

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HP Govt Makes RT-PCR Negative Report Mandatory for People Arriving from Seven States

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entry of tourists in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Tourist movement to Himachal Pradesh is likely to get hit during the peak season as the state government has made it mandatory for people of seven high load states viz. Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh need to carry 72-hour prior RT-PCR negative report while visiting the State. The restriction would apply after April 16th.

The decision came after Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who had been insisting that there would be no restriction on tourist movement to avert economic losses to the tourism industry, held a review meeting amid a massive surge in new cases and deaths.  

The state government has decided to allow tourists to visit the State, but at the same time, hotel owners and tourists should strictly adhere to the SoPs, Chief Minister said.

“The virus was spreading at a fast pace which was the biggest concern. During the last 45 days, the State has reported 10,690 new covid cases. 120 deaths were reported in the State during the last 45 days,” he said.

Over 900 new cases with 12 fatalities were reported on Saturday only.  On Sunday, according to the Health Department’s daily update, the state recorded 512 new cases. 

Pertinent to mention that Maharastra, Delhi and a few other states had been suggesting that a complete lockdown could be imposed if the high rate of resurgence continued in the coming days.

Though the Chief Minister had been maintaining that lockdown would be the last resort, the tone appears to be changing with the worsening of the COVID-19 situation.

Further, laying stress on twin strategy for testing, tracing and treatment with effective surveillance of micro containment zones, Chief Minister said that greater emphasis must also be laid on RT-PCR tests to achieve the target of 70 percent RT-PCR tests.

He said that the State Health Department must also take steps to increase bed capacity to meet out any eventuality.

Meanwhile, no restriction has been put on the devotees visiting various temples in the State during the Navratri festival.

The government said no overcrowding would be allowed in buses and other public transport and private vehicles. Wearing face masks even in vehicles must be enforced strictly.

Chief Minister, who faced widespread criticism over violation of SOPs during the political campaigning for elections to the Municipal Corporations, blamed laxity shown by the people for a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the State.  

 

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Himachal Pradesh: 662 New Cases & 7 Deaths in 24 Hours, Over 4500 Cases & 55 Deaths in 9 Nine Days

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 report

Shimla– The number of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths in Himachal Pradesh was reported to be 662 and seven respectively on Friday till 7 pm. Kangra district reported the highest 165 new cases and four fatalities, while Sirmaur, Shimla, and Mandi recorded one fatality each.

View details of COVID-19 deaths below:

Daily covid 19 deaths

Source: HP NHM

Solan followed Kangra district with 132 new cases.

Find district-wise details of new cases below:

Daily COVID-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

Source: HP NHM

The COVID-19 case and death tallies have now reached 68173 and 1090 respectively. In April, the state has recorded a huge surge in cases. In the nine days of this month, the state has recorded 4568 new cases and 55 COVID-19 deaths – a rate of more than six deaths per day.

The state government today reviewed the situation in its Cabinet meeting and expressed concern. However, no restrictive measures were taken except extending the closure of all educational institutes till April 21.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been maintaining that a lockdown would be the last resort.

Further, the state government today said that to make vaccination people’s movement, 11th to 14th April may be celebrated as ‘Teeka Utsav’.

The government said that the biggest matter of concern was that the virus was spreading at a fast pace. In addition to this, the number of death has also increased rapidly. All the districts have been advised to enhance their capacity be it bed capacity, quarantine capacity and medical equipment capacity etc.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that strict action must also be taken against those involved in gross violation of SOPs. He said that the hoteliers must also strictly follow the SOPs so that the State Government may not be forced to take action. He said that laxity shown by the people has resulted in sharp resurgence of Covid cases in the State.

It’s pertinent to mention that during the campaigning for the elections to Municipal Corporations, all parties and their leaders including the Chief Minister violated all SOPs without attracting any action. The parties also faced criticism for ignoring public health for the sake of political interests, thus, setting wrong examples for the public.  

Feature Image: Pexels@polina-tankilevitch

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