With over 40 students in three districts of Shimla, Chamba and Mandi testing positive and active cases exceeding the 2,000-mark in the past fortnight, Himachal Pradesh has once again raised concerns within weeks of the Covid-19 unlocking. The reports come even amid warmings that the deadly second wave hasn’t fully receded yet.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has called a meeting of the state cabinet this afternoon to take stock of the worsening situation. The daily Covid caseload has already increased to three-digit, and the positive rate is bordering on two per cent as opposed to being less than one per cent barely three weeks back.
“We are seeing a spurt in the cases. If the situation doesn’t improve, the government will be compelled to impose restrictions once again. We can’t take any risk as we have already lost over 3,500 persons to coronavirus. There have been 13 deaths between August 2 to August 8," the CM said.
Data released by the National Health Mission (NHM) reveals that 1,726 new cases were reported in the state during the week ending on August 8. The active cases have already crossed the 2090 mark, against less than 500 till July 2021. The highest number of 489 active cases are in Chamba, a small district bordering Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Lahaul-Spiti, which until some days back was free from active corona cases, also reported one death on Monday, a70-yr old male.
The opening of the schools by the government has also not gone well as three schools in Shimla, Mandi and Chamba were closed following infection spread. Parents also lodged their protests over the government's move to open the schools even when Covid SoPs were hardly being enforced in the institutions.
The cabinet will take a call on the opening of the schools in view of the prevalent situation, says Education minister Govind Thakur.
The state government has already made RTPCR test mandatory for all tourists coming to the state. Deputy Commissioners at Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur and Kangra have also passed orders mandating pilgrims coming to the state to bring either an RTPCR negative report or proof of jabs.
“There will be a strict vigil on the pilgrims coming to religious shrines like Chintpurni and those in Kangra district which attract thousands of devotees during these days. There is fear of the third wave and also a spurt in the cases against," informs Raghav Sharma, Deputy Commissioner Una.
The Una district has emerged as the most vulnerable since it has been a gateway for tourists and pilgrims coming to Himachal Pradesh from Punjab and other parts.
Ahead of Independence Day, Director-General of Police Sanjay Kundu said additional deployments have been made at the entry points to check all the vehicles and persons. This is not just for Covid but also from a security point of view of following recent threats by a banned pro-Khalistani outfit based in the USA.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur’s security cover has also been upgraded to the ‘Z’ plus category after a self-proclaimed Khalistani supporter threatened to disrupt his flag hoisting ceremony on August 15.