A recent surge in Coronavirus cases and deaths in Himachal Pradesh has sparked fears of a second wave in the state. The state has reported more than 40 deaths in a span of five days, of which 17 were reported in the last 32 hours.
Senior health officials don't deny the possibility of a second wave in the state after AIIMS Director Dr, Randeep Guleria, hinted at the same two days ago.
As many as 12 people, four of whom were admitted to Shimla’s leading government hospital, Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC), lost their lives due to Covid-19 on Wednesday. A 95-year-old man hailing from the tribal district of Kinnaur was among the 12 victims.
Two more deaths were reported on Thursday in Shimla, which included an 85-year-old resident of Sanjauli. He tested positive after he was admitted at the hospital on October 28. The other was a 65-year-old man from Nirmand in Kullu district who died Thursday morning at IGMC Shimla.
On Wednesday, the state reported 422 positive cases — the highest so far.
Health Minister Dr Rajiv Sehgal admits that there's been a sudden spurt in coronavirus cases over the past five days. The number had dropped down to one or two cases per day towards last week of October.
“The cases are rising even in other states. I don't think it's the second wave sort of a thing. Every death happening in the government hospitals/isolation wards is not only because of Covid-19 but due to co-morbidities. The government has done a social audit of each death. Main reason is attributed to co-morbidities,” Dr Sehgal told Outlook.
The Health Minister has appealed to the people to take all necessary precautions as winters could further increase the chances of infection. Three main ways suggested are social distancing, hand hygiene and use of face masks at public places.
When contacted, Amitabh Awasthi, state’s health secretary, maintained that the spike in the number of positive cases can be attributed to the high testing rate in the state.
“We are testing 5600 samples every day against 2,000 earlier. The capacity has been enhanced as one of the measures to protect the people against infection. The mortality in Himachal Pradesh is also low as compared to many states,” Awasthi said.
He rules out any comparison with Delhi, where the level of pollution is very high. This is not a problem in Himachal Pradesh. “The people should avoid visiting crowded places like markets and must follow social distancing,” he advised.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister's Principal Secretary J C Sharma has also tested positive, after CM’s private secretary R N Batta.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, after having fully recovered, has started touring the state ahead of the Panchayati Raj elections likely to be announced later this month.
Earlier, half dozen cabinet ministers including education minister Govind Singh Thakur and assembly Speaker Vipin Parmar and a dozen MLAs and top bureaucrats had tested positive.
Himachal Pradesh has already opened schools for classes 9 to 12, but parents have shown reluctance in sending children to schools.
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