After a fresh upsurge in Covid -19 cases in states like Maharashtra, Kerala and Punjab, alarm bells are also ringing in Himachal Pradesh, where 63 fresh Covid cases have been reported in the past 48-hours , mostly in Kangra and Shimla districts. .
While Kangra is the biggest district in the state with a sizable Tibetan population and huge tourist arrivals, the capital Shimla remains the hub of the major activities.
At least 15 nursing students at the Sister Nivedita Government Nursing College, Shimla have tested positive, said Sub-divisional Magistrate (Urban ) Shimla Manjit Sharma. “We have decided to declare the entire College campus as containment zone banning all outside movements of outside persons and vehicles to the campus .The College is part of Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) .All supplies viz milk, bread, groceries ,medicines, fruits and vegetables will be made only through authorised persons” said Sharma .
A day earlier, 23 monks at Gyuto Tantric Monastery of Karmapa in Sidhpur area of Dharamsala tested positive apart from some locals . This was the first time in the entire Covid period when the infection was detected among Buddhist monks ,who had taken stringent precautions and stayed indoors. The monasteries were still closed and Tibetan community ,in fact, was planning to open them shortly. “ But this comes as a shock to the district administration” admits Deputy Commissioner ,Kangra Rakesh Prajapati.
Chief Medical officer (CMO) Kangra G D Gupta said there were around 400 monks staying in Gyuto monastery. Of the 70 that were tested, 20 tested positive while three others who reported symptoms were shifted to the Corona hospital in Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College ,Tanda (Kangra). Dr Gupta said the monks who have been tested positive had no travel history
While no mortality has been reported so far, the spike at a time when the state government has eased most restrictions and allowed schools ,colleges and universities to open has created panic in the state .
The state assembly is also currently in session to pass the budget for year 2021-22 .
Dr Nipun Jindal, Special Secretary (Health) told Outlook that “ because lot of people have started ignoring the SoPs and stopped wearing masks or observing social distancing , the corona virus can make a comeback. Some of the states have already slipped back to the third wave and we can’t rule-out same in Himachal Pradesh ,a tourists state “
Sanjay Sood, President Shimla Hotels and Restaurants Association feels that fresh cases of Covid -19 may deter tourists arrivals, as the hotel industry has seen good periods during January and February months .Shimla hotels are almost running packed during the weekends .There is also good footfall at Manali and Dharamshala ,beside other towns like McLeodganj, Dalhousie and Kasauli .
Total number of active cases in Himachal Pradesh had dropped below 250 but now has again shown a rise above 300 mark .Tribal district of Lahaul Spiti was declared corona free on February 1 as no fresh case was reported in January.