Amid an unprecedented surge in Covid cases and a high fatality rate, several bureaucrats including the chief secretary, director-general have also tested positive for Coronavirus.
Chief secretary Anil Khachi, a 1986-batch IAS officer, who has been at the forefront of enforcing Covid-19 guidelines, is under home isolation after he contracted Covid-19.
Last week, director-general of police Sanjay Kundu had tested positive and was temporarily substituted by additional DGP Anurag Garg, currently heading the state’s Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Kundu, who has been a part of all meetings with Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, has been frequently travelling across the state for official work.
Additional chief secretary (Revenue) R D Dhiman, additional chief secretary (Finance) Prabodh Saxena, additional chief secretary (Social Justice and Empowerment) Sanjay Gupta, secretary (GAD) Divesh Kumar and secretary (Health) Amitabh Awasthi and joint secretary (Forest) Satpal Dhiman has also contracted Covid and have quarantined themselves at their homes.
A government spokesman informed about the health condition of the bureaucrats, especially in the context of chief secretary Anil Khachi and secretary health Amitabh Awasthi.
“As per the Covid-19 protocol, both the officers have undergone home quarantine being the primary contact to a Covid positive officer. The actual position will be clear only after a day or two when both these officers are tested for the Covid-19”, the spokesman said.
State cabinet ministers including Bikram Singh and Sraveen Chaudhary have also tested positive for Covid-19. Chaudhary's entire family was tested positive six days ago. State BJP president Suresh Kashyap, a sitting MP, is also Covid positive.
Director Elementary education is also down with Covid-19.
A senior official in the personnel department admits that Covid-19 has severely affected several bureaucrats from top to lower ranks.
Before this, Minister for Urban Development Suresh Bhardwaj, Education minister Govind Thakur and minister for Technical Education Dr Ram Lal Markanda had tested positive for Covid-19 but have now recovered.
Last year, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had also contracted Covid-19.
What is more concerning about the second wave in Himachal is the high fatality rate. The fatality rate in Himachal is 1.5 percent against 1.1 % at the national level. The state’s recovery rate is also low as compared to the national and global average. At 78.1%, Himachal’s recovery rate is below the national average of 81.9% and global average of 85.4%.
So far, 1,680 people in the state have died due to complications caused by the virus.
“Of the total fatalities, 1,079 (64.1%) were male and 590 (35.9%) female. As many as 1,062 victims (64.5%) had comorbidities, 50% (532) had diabetes mellitus, 44.8% (476) had hypertension, 10.7%(113) had chronic kidney diseases, 8% (87) had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease while 585 (35.5%) of the Covid victims were non-comorbid”, informs Dr Nipun Jindal, Mission Director, National Health Mission, Himachal Pradesh.
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