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Himachal: Over 4,900 New Cases, 53 Deaths in March; Educational Institutes May Remain Closed Until April 15

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educational institutes closed in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Educational Institutes in Himachal Pradesh are likely to remain closed for at least two more weeks as the State Education Directorate yesterday recommended it in a meeting held to review the COVID-19 situation. Earlier, the government had announced closure of schools until April 4 due to the rising COVID-19 cases. But the scheduled examinations would not be cancelled, the Directorate clarified.

The Health Department was also said to be in favour of this recommendation by the Education Directorate, but the final decision was yet to be announced by the state government. The recommendations were made in view of the surging COVID-19 cases and fatalities. Further, the government has already admitted that the ongoing second wave is acute and more lethal.

Also Read: New Strain More Lethal & Acute, say Health Officials   

While six COVID-19 deaths were reported on Tuesday, the virus claimed three more on Wednesday, March 31.

In March, the state reported 4,960 new COVID-19 cases and 53 fatalities. The fatality rate has remained higher as compared to the first wave of the novel coronavirus. The number of active cases jumped to 2,973 on March 31 in comparison to only 318 on February 28. From about 47 daily cases at the end of February, the state reported almost 150 cases daily in March.

While officials of the health department are in favour of taking quick preventive measures, the state government is showing a lax attitude in taking any concrete decisions. A delay, an official of the health department said, on the condition of anonymity, would prove to be lethal for the people of the state.

Recently, a report released by the State Bank of India had predicted that the second wave would be at its peak by mid-April.

While several other states, including neighbouring Uttarakhand, has decided to make a COVID-19 negative report mandatory to enter the state, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is procrastinating as campaigning for the elections to four Municipal Corporations of the state is in full swing. The campaigning is making it only difficult to make people follow COVID-19 SOPs and adhere to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. Chief Minister is himself campaigning aggressively and attending public gatherings.

Some concerned officials of the health department and district administrations expressed fear that the lives of the people are being put at stake for political interest. Some of them suggested that testing is still low and the current situation asks for a manyfold increase in the rate of testing.

The people have also lowered their guards and showing laxity in following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. A large number of people can be seen carrying out election campaigning and attending public gatherings without wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.

Pertinent to mention that Chief Minister has been completely rejecting any possibility of a lockdown but had been suggesting strict restrictions in the coming days. Further, Chief Minister was not in favour of putting restrictions on tourist movement as it would foil the peak season for the industry on the second consecutive year.

Meanwhile, tourist influx has reported a drastic drop as the nation-wide surge in cases continues amid the second wave of the pandemic carrying deadlier variants of the coronavirus. Hoteliers in Shimla reported that almost 50 percent of tourists have already cancelled bookings. The industry stakeholders are yet again in dilemma over the fate of this year’s peak season. They fear that the industry can’t bear another setback.

According to the Union Health Ministry, six States – Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat – continue to report a surge in the COVID new cases daily. 78.56 percent of new cases are reported from these six states. India reported 56,211 new cases in the last 24 hours (from the time of writing).

Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 31,643. It is followed by Punjab with 2,868 while Karnataka reported 2,792 new cases.

A total of 6,24,08,333 vaccine doses have been given, as per the provisional report till 7 pm on March 31.

These include 82,00,007 HCWs who have taken the 1st dose and 52,07,368 HCWs who have taken the 2nd dose, 90,08,905 FLWs (1st dose), 37,70,603 FLWs (2nd dose), 2,90,20,989 1st dose beneficiaries and 36,899 2nd dose beneficiaries more than 60 years old and 71,58,657 (1st dose) and 4,905 (2nd dose) beneficiaries aged 45 and above with specific co-morbidities, according to the Ministry.

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Himachal Records 16 COVID-19 Deaths Including a 16-Year-Old – Highest in a Day This Year

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COVID-19 update himachal pradesh april 20

Shimla-The fatality rate due to the COVID-19 spread is witnessing a sharp increase in Himachal Pradesh. Yesterday, the state had reported 13 COVID-19 deaths, but today the fatalities rose to 16 in a day. A total of 1340 new cases were recorded today till 7 pm. Kangra district reported the highest six deaths, followed by Shimla (4), and Una (3).

Find more details about the deceased below:

Highest covid 19 deaths in himachal pradesh

The infection claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl in Una district. According to the state health department’s official report, she developed severe pneumonia and was a patient of Diabetes Mellitus Type-1. Other deceased aged between 36-78 years.

Earlier today, the Deputy Commissioner of Una, Raghav Sharma, had issued orders to keep markets/shops closed on Sundays and issued timings for the remaining days. A prohibition was imposed on all sorts of events and social gatherings. The orders would come into effect from April 22, 2021.

Also Read: Himachal: Govt Announces More Restrictive Measures, DC Una Closes Shops on Sundays, Issues Timing for Other Days

Further, Chief Minister Jairam today announced more restrictive measures as an attempt to contain the spread (Watch Video Below).

Solan district reported the highest 265 cases, followed by Una (173), Shimla (164) and Sirmaur (155).

Find more district-wise details below:

Himachal pradesh daily covid-19 report april 20

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Himachal: Govt Announces More Restrictive Measures, DC Una Closes Shops on Sundays, Issues Timing for Other Days

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hp govt's new restrictions in himachal pradesh

Una-Deputy Commissioner of Una district, Raghav Sharma, has issued an order for the imposition of new restrictive measures from April 22, 2021, in wake of the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the district. The DC also expressed fear of community spread and ordered that markets would remain closed on Sundays in both rural and urban areas of the district.

However, these orders would not apply to drug stores, hotels, dhabas, and restaurants. Further, shops selling dairy, vegetables, fruits and meat would also remain open on Sundays from 7 am to 8 pm. Saloons and barber shops would also be allowed to operate on Sunday between 9 am to 6 pm.

All shops would remain open from Monday to Saturday within the given time period, which is 7 am to 8 pm for fruit, vegetable, meat, and dairy shops, and 9 am to 6 pm for saloons/barber shops, and 9 am to 6 pm for remaining shops.

Also Read: With Neighboring States Going to Curfew, Himachal’s Tourism Sector Again Comes to a Halt

A prohibition has been imposed on the organization of all sort of cultural, religious, political, sports and other gatherings in the district. For attending marriages and funerals, the permission of the district administration would be required.

Today, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur also told the media that the number of people allowed in social gatherings, like marriages, has been reduced to 50 for both indoors and outdoors.

For government employees, working days have been reduced to five days a week and staff capacity to 50 percent. Public transport would operate with only 50 percent capacity.

For marriages or any sort of other social, cultural, political events, prior permission of one week would have to be obtained by applying online at the official portal.

The inter-state transport would remain operational, the government said. People returning from high load states were advised to carry COVID-19 negative reports and obey home-quarantine rules strictly.

Orders for Government Employees from Department of Personnel

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COVID-19 Vaccination in India to Open for All Aged Above 18 Years in 3rd Phase: Govt

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All above 18 in india eligible for covid-19 vaccination

New Delhi-From May 1, 2021, everyone above the age of 18 would be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination, the Government of India decided today. As per the government, the decision has been taken as a good amount of coverage of vulnerable groups is expected by 30th April.

Pertinent to mention that a demand was being raised to open vaccination for all amid the peaking second wave of the pandemic which is proving to be deadlier than the first one. On Sunday, former Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, had also written to Prime Minister Narender Modi to be more flexible in deciding eligibility for vaccination as it was the only hope. He had pointed out that when we look at the percentage of population instead of the absolute numbers, we see that only a small fraction has been covered so far. He had also suggested reworking on the current model adopted by the government. 

Singh had asked the Prime Minister to allow states to define who qualifies as a ‘frontline worker’.  Many states wanted to designate bus and taxi drivers, school teachers, municipal and panchayat staff, and even lawyers as frontline workers to make them eligible for vaccination even if they are below the requisite 45 years of age.

Phase-I of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy was launched on 16th January 2021, prioritizing vaccination of Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Front Line Workers (FLWs). Phase-II was initiated from 1st March 2021, focusing on the most vulnerable i.e. all people above 45 years of age, accounting for more than 80% of Covid mortality in the country. The private sector was also roped in to augment capacity.

So far, Emergency Use Authorisation has been granted to two indigenously manufactured vaccines (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech), and a third vaccine (Sputnik) that while presently manufactured abroad will eventually be manufactured in India, the GoI said.

The government said that in its Phase-III, the National Vaccine Strategy aims at liberalised vaccine pricing and scaling up of vaccine coverage, the GoI said. This would augment vaccine production as well as availability, incentivising vaccine manufacturers to rapidly ramp up their production as well as attract new vaccine manufacturers, domestic and international. It would also make pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible, allowing all stakeholders the flexibility to customise to local needs and dynamics, the GoI said.

The main elements of the Phase 3 Strategy of the National Covid-19 Vaccination program that would come in effect from 1st May 2021

(i)      Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to Govt. of India and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to State Govts. and in the open market (hereinafter referred to as other than Govt. of India channel).

 (ii)    Manufacturers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to State Govts. and in the open market, before 1st May 2021. Based on this price, State governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for other than Govt. of India channel. Private Vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18.

(iii)    Vaccination will continue as before in Govt. of India vaccination centres, provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined earlier i.e. Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and all people above 45 years of age.

(iv)    All vaccination (through Govt. of India and Other than Govt. of India channel) would be part of the National Vaccination Programme, and mandated to follow all protocol such as being captured on CoWIN platform, linked to AEFI reporting and all other prescribed norms. Stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres will also have to be reported in real-time.

(v)     The division of vaccine supply 50% to Govt. of India and 50% to other than Govt. of India channel would be applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country. However, the Government of India will allow the imported fully ready to use vaccines to be entirely utilized in the other than Govt. of India channel.

(vi)    Govt. of India, from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) & performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criterion and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, State-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the States adequately in advance.

(vii) The Second dose of all existing priority groups i.e. HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years, wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.

(viii) This policy would come into effect from 1st May 2021 and will be reviewed from time to time.

Feature Photo: ivvndiaz/unsplash

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