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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.

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: 80% Voter Turnout in 2nd Phase of Panchayat Polls

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Second phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Election Commission informed that the elections for 1208 Gram Panchayats were held today in the second phase in which around 80 percent polling was registered.

Overall, 75 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation cast their votes as per the standard operating procedures.

The highest polling has been registered in Nandpur Gram Panchayat of Nalagarh developmental block of Solan district where the voter turnout was reported to be 96 percent.

The poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state. The counting of votes for Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and members was under the process and the results were awaited till late evening. The counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on 22 January 2021 at block headquarters.

Election-related process and results have been uploaded for the general public on sechimachal.nic.in.

The election for third and final phase for 1137 Panchayats would be held on 21 January 2021.

The first phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions in Himachal Pradesh was held in 1228 Gram Panchayats on January 17, 2021. The overall polling percentage in the first phase was reported to 77.50%.

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Bird Flu Confirmed in Dead Poultry Dumped Near Himachal Borders, Ban on Poultry Products Extended   

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Himachal Pradesh Extends Ban on poultry

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government has temporarily extended the ban on entry of poultry and poultry products into the State from neighbouring states for one more week. A notification to this regard was issued on January 18, 2021.

 The Government said that during the past few days, there had been incidences of dumping of dead poultry in the border areas of the State. Samples were collected from these dead birds, and disposed of the remaining birds as per protocol, it said. NIHSAD Lab, Bhopal, has confirmed Avian Influenza-H5N8 in the dumped birds.

Hundreds of dead poultry birds were found dumped along the Parwanoo-Solan stretch on the National Highway. The police was yet to identify culprits responsible.

However, the State Government said that the Flu has not been detected in the local poultry.

The State Government said that a “Bird Flu” outbreak was notified on January 6, 2021, in Pong Dam wetland of district Kangra. The count for migratory bird death due to the Flu had mounted to 4936 till January 18, 2021. On January 17, only 21 migratory birds died in the Pong Dam wetland area.

The State Government said a sharp decline was reported in death of migratory birds due to avian influenza outbreak in the Pong dam lake wildlife sanctuary.

Ten Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) of Wildlife Wing would continue to work in the wetland for collection and safe disposal of dead birds as per protocol till no mortality is recorded. 

Till January 18, 2021 outbreaks of Avian Influenza have been confirmed in 5 States for poultry birds and in 9 States for crows, migratory and wild bird.

Culling of poultry birds had to be taken in all the affected epicentres including CPDO, Mumbai. Culling operation of poultry in Haryana was also underway. The outbreak has is causing losses worth crores to poultry farmers. 

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447 Cases of Adverse Effect Including 3 in Himachal Reported Post COVID-19 Vaccination

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COVID-19-vaccination-adverse effect in himachal pradesh

Shimla– Amid skepticism over the COVID-19 vaccination, India has reported over 400 cases of adverse effect post-vaccination, informed the Ministry of Health. To be more specific, a total of 447 Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFIs) were reported on 16th Jan & 17th Jan’21.

Out of these, three required hospitalization. Of these, one was discharged from Northern Railway Hospital Delhi within 24 hours; one was discharged from AIIMS Delhi, and one is under observation in AIIMS Rishikesh and is being monitored.

Most of the AEFIs reported so far are minor like Fever, Headache, Nausea etc.

In Himachal Pradesh, about three cases of AEFIs were reported on day 1 of vaccination drive. These were reported from Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College Tanda, Kangra, Civil Hospital Paonta Sahib, and Maharishi Markandeshwar University Medical College, Solan.

In these cases, symptoms reported included dizziness, anxiety, nausea and shivering and persons recovered after management as per protocol, it was informed.

In Himachal, 2,499 health care workers were to be administered dose through 27 identified sites in the State on January 16. However, only 1535 healthcare workers could be vaccinated on the first day. It was 61 percent of this set target. The second round would be held today.  

Two types of COVID-19 vaccines have been supplied for the vaccination drive. These include Covishield vaccine (made by Serum Institute of India Ltd) that has been supplied to all States/UTs.

The second is Covaxin vaccine (made by Bharat Biotech International Ltd) that has been supplied to 12 States.

An Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) is any unexpected medical occurrence which follows immunization. It may not be related to the vaccine or vaccination process. The Ministry had laid down protocols for reporting, immediate case management at vaccination session site, transportation and hospitalization and further care of such cases. Protocols are also in place for systematic investigation and causality assessment of serious AEFIs, the Ministry said.

India has vaccinated the highest number of persons on Day1 under its COVID19 vaccination program, the world’s largest such exercise.

Total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till today as per the provisional report.

The second day of the massive countrywide COVID-19 vaccination program was also conducted successfully. A total of 553 sessions were held in six States. As many as 17,072 beneficiaries were vaccinated on Day2, as per the provisional reports.

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