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Count for ‘Bird Flu Deaths’ in Himachal Crosses 31000, Poultry Farmers, Fishermen Face Huge Losses 

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Shimla-Rising count of dead migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh due to an outbreak of “bird flu” is keeping the Horticulture and Wildlife Departments on their toes. The cause of deaths at the Pong Dam Sanctuary was H5N1 Avian Influenza virus, informed the Wildlife Wing of the State Forest Department on Wednesday. Samples of dead birds were sent to NIHASD Bhopal, it was informed.  

The tally for Migratory bird deaths in Himachal Pradesh has crossed the 31,000 mark. Till January 5, this number was 2736 for the Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary alone. Some deaths of migratory birds have been reported from around Govind Sagar lake in Bilaspur district. About 90 percent of these deaths include Bar-Headed Gees, which migrate to Pong Dam wetlands from Siberia and Mongolia every year. These birds are known for their capability to sustain long flights at very high altitudes ranging from 5000 to 6000 meters above sea level, especially while crossing the Himalayan range. Other than that, some crows have also been found dead in some areas. But the reason of death was yet to be ascertained.  

According to the Department, it was on 28 December 2020 that the field staff of Dhameta Range had first reported sudden deaths of four Bar-Headed Geese and one Common Teal in Fatehpur area.

The Wildlife Wing said that it was working actively to contain this outbreak of “bird-flu” and the field staff has been directed to maintain strict vigil and active surveillance on the situation.

“Rapid Response Teams have been constituted and deployed for collection and safe disposal of dead birds as per protocol. The infected areas are being disinfected and sanitized. The whole operation is being supervised by DFO Wildlife Hamirpur,”

informed a spokesperson of the Forest Department.

The outbreak of the flu in and around Pong Dam Sanctuary has promoted the government to ban fishing and livestock activity within an area of one kilometre from the lake’s periphery. An alert has been sounded within a radius of 10 km from the periphery of the lake. Also, commercial activity relating to poultry, birds, and fish has prohibited in Fatehpur, Dehra, Jawali and Indora subdivision of Kangra district.

The outbreak is haunting poultry farmers and those dealing in chicken and egg sales and export to markets. Poultry farmers fear that the outbreak would cause losses worth crores as the winter season is the peak season for their business. In case bird flu is reported in poultry farms, thousands of birds would have to be culled to prevent further spread, resulting in losses to these farmers. According to people involved in poultry and fishing, the demand has already fallen drastically after the news regarding the outbreak of the flu broke out.

The Animal Husbandry Department has sent 119 samples of poultry birds from areas around the Dam to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar. The results of the tests were still awaited. Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Dr Sanjeev Dhiman informed that so far no case of bird flu has been reported among poultry birds.

So far, the Government of India has confirmed an outbreak of Avian Influenza in Rajasthan (Baran, Kota, Jhalawar), Madhya Pradesh (Mandsaur, Indor, Malwa), Kerala (Kottayam, Allapuzha), and Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra.

The measures suggested by the Union Government to the affected States to contain the disease and prevent further spread as per the Action Plan on Avian Influenza include strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms, disinfection of affected areas, proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses, timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance, intensification of surveillance plan as well as the general guidelines for the prevention of disease spread from affected birds to poultry and human. Coordination with the forest department for reporting any unusual mortality of birds was also suggested to the States. The other states were also requested to keep a vigil on any unusual mortality amongst birds and to report immediately to take necessary measures.

Avian Influenza (AI) viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century. India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006. Though the Government of India denies that the bird flu is only zoonotic, according the World Health Organization, there has been cases of infection in humans too.

According to WHO,

“As of 10 December 2020, a total of 1,568 laboratory confirmed human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported to WHO since early
2013. Among them, 33 cases were infected with HPAI A(H7N9) virus, which have mutations in the hemagglutinin gene indicating a change to high pathogenicity in poultry. No increased transmissibility or virulence of the virus within human cases has been detected related to the HPAI A(H7N9) virus.”

“Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments. The virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food,”

WHO adds. 

According to Centre for Disease Control And Prevention,

“Rare human infections with some avian viruses have occurred most often after unprotected contact with infected birds or surfaces contaminated with avian influenza viruses. However, some infections have been identified where direct contact was not known to have occurred. Illness in people has ranged from mild to severe.”

The Centre also adds,

“Because of the possibility that avian influenza A viruses could change and gain the ability to spread easily between people, monitoring for human infection and person-to-person spread is extremely important for public health.”

Implementing management practices that incorporate bio security principles, personal hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols, as well as cooking and processing standards, are effective means of controlling the spread of the AI viruses.

In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months i.e. from September – October to February – March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out.

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New Relaxations in Corona Curfew in Himachal: Read What’s Permitted, What’s Not

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Shimla-Corona Curfew in Himachal Pradesh would continue along with the guidelines/ SOPs issued from time to time but additional relaxations have been added. The decisions to allow more relaxation in curfew came in the HP Cabinet meeting held on June 22, 2021. The Himachal Pradesh Disaster Management Authority (HPSDMA) has also issued a new notification regarding the same. 

While some of the relaxations would come into force from June 23, others would be applicable from July 1.

Though the health experts and the Centre government has issued repeated warnings of the third wave predicted to arrive within the next 7-8 weeks, the HP government has decided to throw open state borders without any restriction or monitoring. At the same time, the Centre government has today written to affected states over the new variant – Delta Plus – a matter of greater concern.

Based on the recent findings of INSACOG, the Union Health Ministry has alerted and advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh regarding the Delta Plus variant of COVID19 being found in some districts in these States.

INSACOG has informed that the Delta Plus Variant, currently a Variant of Concern (VOC), has increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

Monoclonal antibodies are artificial antibodies that mimic the activity of our immune systems.

The ministry today informed that this new variant has been found in 80 countries including India.

Despite this, the State government didn’t consider it necessary to monitor visitors from the states affected by the Delta Plus variant through e-pass or RTPCR report.

It’s pertinent to mention that in wake of its failure to provide relief to the worst-hit tourism industry, the state government was under huge pressure from the hoteliers and stakeholders in the tourism industry to waive off restrictions on tourist entry into state for the remaining peak tourist season.

Also Read: Read Eight Reliefs That Himachal’s Devastated Tourism Industry Seeks from HP Govt  

Corona Curfew Relaxations to Come into Force in Himachal From June 23

  1. All markets, malls, shops etc. are allowed to open up to 8 PM.
  2. There will be no restriction on the timings of pharmacies/chemist shops and they will remain open as per their normal operating hours.
  3. Restaurants/dhabas/other eateries & bars are permitted to now remain open upto 10 PM.
  4. All social academic/ entertainment/ cultural/ political and other congregations including marriage celebrations and functions are permitted with up to 50% of the capacity, subject to a maximum of 50 persons in indoor built-up/covered areas.
  5.  In open spaces, gatherings will be allowed with a ceiling of a maximum of 100 persons.
  6. Gathering in Funerals/Cremations are allowed upto 50.
  7. All cinema halls, entertainment parks, theatres & auditoriums, assembly halls, clubhouses, golf courses and gymnasiums are allowed to open up to 10 PM with 50% capacity.
  8. Sports Complexes are permitted to open for sports activities including outdoor sports activities except for contact sports (Spectators will not be allowed).

New Curfew Relaxation from July 1, 2021

  1. All offices of the Government Department/ PSUs/ local bodies/autonomous bodies including the H.P. Secretariat will operate with 100% attendance from 01.07.2021 (FN).
  2. Medical colleges, Ayurvedic colleges, Dental colleges, Nursing and Pharmacy colleges are already allowed to. Engineering colleges/polytechnic and ITIS will also be allowed to reopen from July 1st
  3. Detailed guidelines & SOPS in this regard will be issued by the Department of Technical Education, Himachal Pradesh. All other educational, training, coaching institutions etc. will continue to remain closed till further orders.
  4. Religious places/places of worship are allowed to open from July 1 for darshan only with the condition that they follow requisite SOPS issued by the Department of Language, Art and Culture, Himachal Pradesh. No kirtan, bhajan, jagratas etc. will be permissible.
  5. Inter-State movement of public transport buses/contract/stage carriages will be allowed from July 1st with 50% of the registered seating capacity as per SOPS issued by the Department of Transport, Himachal Pradesh.
  6. There will be no requirement of an e-pass for entry to the State from July 1st

General Directives for COVID Management

The following General Directives for COVID-19 Management shall be strictly followed throughout the State:

  1. Face coverings/ Masks: Wearing of face cover/ mask properly is compulsory in public places, shopping areas/ shops/ markets/ malls and workplaces; and in public & private transport.
  2. Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in public places
  3. Spitting in a public place will be punishable with a fine, as prescribed under laws, rules or regulations.
  4. Consumption of paan, gutka, tobacco, and similar products in a public place is prohibited.
  5. Proper ventilation of closed spaces to be ensured.

 

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Over 1 Lakh Vaccinated in Himachal in a Day, HP Govt Expects to Vaccinate All Adults With First Dose by October

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Shimla– Himachal Pradesh on June 21 –  the first day of vaccination under revised policy- vaccinated a record 1,000,80 eligible beneficiaries.  The state government has set a target of inoculating one lakh doses per day. Starting Monday, the Union Government is responsible for procuring and providing vaccines to states for free. 

Meanwhile, over 85.15 lakh people were vaccinated against Coronavirus across the country on Monday. On Tuesday, more than 48 lakh Vaccine Doses administered , as per the 7 pm provisional report released by the government. India’s cumulative COVID Vaccination Coverage crossed 29.40 crore (29,40,42,822), as per the 7 pm provisional report today. 

Himachal Pradesh saw an active participation of people in the vaccination drive, the government informed. More people in tribal districts of Lahaul- Spiti, Kinnaur and district Kangra were administered vaccines on Monday than the targeted number, it was informed. As per the COWIN portal figures, 1,08,000 beneficiaries were vaccinated in the state on Tuesday before 4:00 pm.

HP government claims to vaccinate all the people in the state above 18 years of age with the first dose by October. So far, a total of 512072 beneficiaries under the 18-44 years age group have been administered the first dose of vaccine in Himachal Pradesh. The state government claimed that it currently possesses 7,33,810 Covid-19 doses.  The state government received 1.92 lakh vaccines dose from the Centre on Monday, the government informed. 

It’s pertinent to mention that after facing backlash from the Supreme Court over its previous policy, which the court found to be “arbitrary and irrational”,  the Centre government had to revise vaccination policy and take the charge of providing free jabs to all adults in government hospitals across the country. The Centre will now procure 75 percent of the vaccines being produced. Walk-in facilities were also permitted for eligible beneficiaries. 

Also Read: India’s Revised Vaccination Policy and Supreme Court’s Role Behind This Change in Approach

Vaccines for the 18-44 age group in Himachal Pradesh will be administered on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. For people above the 45+ age group, vaccine sessions will be organized on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The table below shows the cumulative vaccine doses administered to 18-44 years age group till now.

 
S.No. State 1st Dose 2nd Dose
1 A & N Islands 22862 0
2 Andhra Pradesh 1255732 6557
3 Arunachal Pradesh 148349 0
4 Assam 1618461 110747
5 Bihar 4363177 68761
6 Chandigarh 145427 0
7 Chhattisgarh 1303543 40478
8 Dadra & Nagar Haveli 95163 0
9 Daman & Diu 102305 0
10 Delhi 1692763 146220
11 Goa 240493 3306
12 Gujarat 5703475 129599
13 Haryana 2551388 52923
14 Himachal Pradesh 512072 0
15 Jammu & Kashmir 592426 28173
16 Jharkhand 1571012 45000
17 Karnataka 4706571 37945
18 Kerala 1571330 4398
19 Ladakh 69230 0
20 Lakshadweep 21113 0
21 Madhya Pradesh 6211455 126238
22 Maharashtra 3766890 237360
23 Manipur 116399 0
24 Meghalaya 166499 0
25 Mizoram 163449 0
26 Nagaland 152617 0
27 Odisha 1850178 123621
28 Puducherry 144485 0
29 Punjab 1080941 3961
30 Rajasthan 5384169 3868
31 Sikkim 152193 0
32 Tamil Nadu 3937308 21741
33 Telangana 2828462 14621
34 Tripura 587445 10652
35 Uttar Pradesh 6620097 158379
36 Uttarakhand 870864 31711
37 West Bengal 3218344 18353
  Total 65538687 1424612

 

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HP Cabinet Decisions June 22: Nod to Start Inter-State Bus Service, End e-Pass System, and Formula to Calculate Class 12 Theory Marks

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Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Cabinet meeting was held on June 22, 2021. The Cabinet decided to start inter-state buses including Volvos with 50% capacity from 1 July 2021. The system of obtaining e-pass would be discontinued from 1st July. The government offices would start working with a 100% capacity from 1st July. Similarly, religious places would be allowed to open for ‘darshans’ only. However, no kirtan, bhajan, jagratas etc. religious events would be allowed. 

From Wednesday, all the shops would remain open from 9 AM to 8 PM while restaurants would be allowed to open till 10 PM.

Social gatherings/attendance etc. would be allowed up to 50% of the total indoor capacity with a maximum of 50 persons, whereas a maximum of 100 persons would be allowed in the outdoor gatherings.

Formula for Calculation of Theory Marks for HPBOSE 12th Classes Approved

According to the formula, the calculation would be based on:

  1. 10% weightage to 10th class,
  2. 15% weightage to 11th class results
  3. 55% weightage to 1st, 2nd terms and pre-board examinations
  4. 5 % weightage to English subject results
  5. 15 % weightage to internal assessment

The results of HPBOSE class 12th would be declared by the 3rd week of July 2021.

The HP Cabinet also approved one month vacation in schools from 26th June to 25th July in summer closing areas. Kullu district will have a 23-day vacation from 23rd July to 14th August 2021.

Lahaul-Spiti will have one month vacation from 1st July to 31st July. Teachers in the winter closing areas would start attending the schools from 1st July 2021. However, online studies for students would continue.

The Cabinet also directed Education and Health Departments to plan in such a way that a maximum number of teaching and non-teaching staff of educational institutions is immunized by the end of this month.

The HP Cabinet also decided to enhance the stipend of PG students (MD/MS and DNB), Junior Residents, Tutor specialists and DM/M.ch students of the government medical colleges and dental colleges of the State by Rs. 5000 per month.

The decision was also taken to double the diet allowance of the sportspersons of the education department as per the budget announcement of the Chief Minister. As per the decision, the diet money at the block level has been enhanced from Rs. 50 to Rs. 100, at the zonal and district level from Rs. 60 to Rs. 120 and at the State level from Rs. 75 to Rs. Rs.150 per day per student.

The Cabinet also gave ex-post facto approval to fill up

  1. 1602 posts of different categories in various health institutions of the State up to 30th June 2021, on outsource basis
  2. It also decided to grant an extension to these employees up to 30th September 2021 keeping in view the possibility of 3rd wave of the pandemic.
  3. 25 posts of Assistant District Attorney in Prosecution department on contract basis through direct recruitment
  4. create and fill up 30 posts of different categories in the newly opened Sub Jail at Kalpa in Kinnaur district

The Cabinet decided to extend the lease/tender period of modification in working of the Govind Sagar reservoir for a minimum period from one to four years.

The Cabinet approved to establish new Police Station of State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau at Baddi in district Solan along with the creation and filling up of 14 posts of various categories.

It also gave its consent to enhance the honorarium of part-time water carriers of the Education department by Rs. 300 per month from 1st April 2021. The decision would benefit 1252 part-time water carriers of the department.

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