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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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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 a Sharp Spike in Daily New Covid Cases and Deaths, Two More Test Positive for Omicron

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh on Monday witnessed a major jump in the number of both daily Covid-19 positive people and Covid-19 related deaths. While the state recorded 2446 new cases, six people died due to Covid-19 related illnesses. The Kangra district reported four of these days. The Covid-19 death toll has jumped to 3880 in the state and the active cases to 12142.
Further, Solan (359) reported the highest number of cases, followed by Kangra (348), Mandi (312), and Sirmaur (310). The capital reported 289 new cases.

Himachal Pradesh has also reported two new cases of the Omicron variant. Both cases were reported from the Una district where two people had returned from foreign countries. Reportedly, one of them had returned from Dubai and the other from Frace. So far, the state has recorded three cases of the Omicron variant, according to the official statistics.

Daily Covid-19 Report Issued by HP NHM for January 17, 2022 (Till 7 pm)

Omicron cases in Himachal pradesh

The daily sampling, however, remains low despite a rise in positivity rate. On Monday, according to the statistics of the HP Health Department, 12,850 samples were taken. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been giving media statements directing the officials to increase testing, but the number remains below 15, 000.

According to the official statistics, last week (10 Jan – 16 Jan), Himachal Pradesh had reported 11280 new cases and the positivity rate rose to 14.1%.

Though the HP Government has imposed some Covid-19 restrictions, the entry of visitors to the state was yet to be restricted or regulated.

The surge is likely to continue till the third wave of the pandemic peaks in Himachal. Health experts and the state government had already warned about the advent of the third wave.

The government and experts had been urging the people to follow Covid-appropriate behavior and follow related protocols strictly to minimize the impact of the third wave. However, the compliance was reported to be quite low among all sections of the society and within the government itself.

The daily sampling, however, remains low despite rise in the positivity rate. On Monday, according to the statistics of the HP Health Department, 12,850 samples were taken. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been directing the officials to increase testing, but the number still remains below 15, 000.

According to the official statistics, last week (10 Jan – 16 Jan), Himachal Pradesh had reported 11280 new cases and the positivity rate had risen to 14.1%.

Though the HP Government has imposed some Covid-19 restrictions, the entry of visitors to the state was yet to be restricted or regulated.

The surge is likely to continue till the third wave of the pandemic peaks in Himachal. Health experts and the state government had already warned about the advent of third wave.

The government and experts had been urging the people to follow Covid-appropriate behavior and follow related protocols strictly to minimize the impact of the third wave. However, the compliance was reported to be quite low among all sections of the society and within the government itself.

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HP Cabinet Decisions Jan 14, 2022: No New Covid Restrictions, Nod to Tax Waiver for Transporters & Other Decisions

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HP Cabinet Decisions January 14, 2022

Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on January 14, 2022. It was expected that the state government could take a decision on imposing more Covid-19 restriction considering the sudden surge in daily new cases, however no such decision was taken. 

The Cabinet took various decisions including a nod to dispense with the process of 15 marks evaluation and enhancement of weightage of written test from 85 to 100 marks for direct recruitment to Class-III posts.

Tax Waivers for Transporters

The Cabinet gave its ex post facto approval for 100 percent waiver/ exemption of Token Tax, Special Road Tax and Passenger Tax of various categories of vehicles to provide relief to the transporters keeping in view the effect due to corona pandemic.

HP Cabinet decided to waive of remaining 50 percent Token Tax on Stage Carriage, Taxi, Maxi, Auto and Contract Carriage buses, Institutional Buses and 100 percent Token Tax on Contract Carriage Buses and Special Road Tax on Stage Carriage with effect from 1st August 2020 to 30th June 2021. I

The Cabinet also decided to waive off 100 percent Token Tax on Stage Carriage, Contract Carriage and Institutional Buses and Special Road Tax of Stage Carriage with effect from 1st July 2021 to 30th November 2021.

It also decided to waive off 100 passenger tax on contract carriage and institutional buses with effect from 1st April 2020 to 30th November 2021.

The HP Cabinet gave its approval for restructuring of State Taxes and Excise Department. Creation and filling up of posts would be carried out by the Department in a phased manner in consultation with the Finance Department and sync with the restructuring proposal.

The Cabinet gave its approval to fill up 108 posts of different categories in the Revenue Department on a contract basis.

The Cabinet decided to fill up 42 posts of Silk Inspectors in the Industries Department on a contract basis.

The Cabinet decided to fill up 13 posts of different categories in the Printing and Stationery Department.

It decided to fill up three posts of Statistical Assistant in Revenue Department on contract basis.

Relief to Flood Affected Farmers of Lahaul-Spiti

The Cabinet gave its nod to provide relief to flood-affected farmers of Lahaul-Spiti district for current agriculture and horticulture losses caused due to extensive rains on 27th to 30th July last year. The farmers would be provided Rs.2000 per bigha for losses between 25 to 50 percent, Rs. 2500 per bigha for losses between 50 to 75 percent and Rs. 3000 per bigha for losses to agricultural and horticultural crops above 75 percent. Rs. 3000 per bigha would also be provided to farmers for losses to their lands caused due to landslides/flash floods/avalanches etc. and Rs. 1000 per bigha would be provided for the desilting of agricultural and horticultural lands. 

It also gave planning permission for the construction of the PHC building between Lions Club and Housing Block No. 46 in Sector 6 New Shimla with relaxation beyond permissible norms in the public interest.

HP Swaran Jayanti Energy Policy-2021

HP Swaran Jayanti Energy Policy-2021 for clean and green energy development through expeditious of full energy potential especially hydro and solar. The Government aims to add 10000 MW of green energy through hydro, solar and other green energy sources by 2030 and the development of green energy sources

It also aimed at developing a transmission Master Plan to facilitate planning and timely execution of hydro and solar projects. It also lays stress on renewal energy sources viz. solar, wind, biomass and other non-conventional energy sources.

HP Swarnim Jayanti Sports Policy 2021

The Cabinet gave its approval to the Himachal Pradesh Swarnim Jayanti Sports Policy 2021 to develop and maintain sports infrastructure, encourage public-private participation in creating sports infrastructure, coordinate with educational institutions for the promotion of sports and to encourage, train and support sportspersons for participation and excellence in national and international championships with high standards of ethics. 

 

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Covid Restrictions Increase as Himachal Reports a Big Spike With 1200 New Cases in 24 Hours

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh is witnessing a sudden spike in the number of daily Covid-19 positive cases as warned by the health experts and the government. In a span of eight days, the rate of new cases has jumped to more than double.

On Monday, of the total 9942 samples tested for Covid-19, 1200 were found to be positive with two Covid-19 deaths.  This number was below 500 on Sunday.

The surge has come ahead of the `warning of the third wave which is expected to peak by the March-end.

The state government has begun to increase restrictions as a precautionary measure. But the most crucial measure – restrictions on visitors from outside the state- is yet to be attended. Currently, Hill state is reporting a huge footfall of tourists due to snowfall. All tourist destinations are crowded with tourists as it’s the peak season. The imposition of restrictions on visitors would affect the tourism industry.

Also Read: HP Govt Closes Educational Institutes in State in Wake of Surge in Daily Covid-19 Cases

The HP Government has already imposed a night curfew, closed all educational institutes, banned all social and religious gatherings and imposed conditions on the number of people for those which have been allowed, shifted to a 5-day week for the government offices with only 50% attendance. Further, timings of the opening of the markets/shops have also been modified. However, these restrictions wouldn’t apply to chemists/medical stores. These restrictions would remain in force till January 26, 2022. 

Also Read: HP Govt Offices to Operate 5-Days a Week with 50% Attendance, Ban on Social and Religious Gatherings

In the Shimla district, the shops/markets would be allowed to open between 10 am to 7 pm.  However, motor mechanics are allowed to remain open till 11 pm. Similarly, restaurants can remain open till 10 pm, and those located along the National Highways till 11 pm.

In the Una district, all shops/markets except some would be allowed to open only till 6:30 pm and will remain closed on Saturday.

The district administration of Hamirpur has decided this timing to be between 6 am to 6 pm. The markets would remain closed on Saturday and Sunday except for those selling essentials.

For the Kullu district, shops/markets would remain open till 6: 30 pm and 6 pm in Solan. Similarly, administrations of respective districts have the liberty to create their roaster for these timings.

The return of these restrictions to the state and the warning of more daily cases during the next couple of months is causing a panic in the public, worsened by speculations of a possible lockdown in stock.

 

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