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Fresh Covid surge in Himachal Pradesh emerges as a worry in election year

The number of active Covid cases in the hill state has shot up to 4,036 and 14 deaths have been reported due to the disease in the last three weeks.(Photo for representation)

A fresh surge in Covid-19  cases has emerged as a major cause for concern in Himachal Pradesh ahead of the state assembly elections scheduled for the end of the year. 

The number of active Covid cases in the hill state has shot up to 4,036 and 14 deaths have been reported due to the disease in the last three weeks.

Four deaths due to coronavirus were reported in the last 36 hours with three of these registered in Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’s home district –Mandi. The state’s health machinery has been put on a high alert.

The speed at which coronavirus infections are spreading is quite unexpected and is even faster in rural areas.

The state’s biggest district, Kangra, has recorded 971 Covid cases followed by Mandi with 703 cases. The capital Shimla comes at the third spot with 621 cases.

Subashish Panda, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister told India Narrative that it’s quite clear from the data that Himachal Pradesh is witnessing a fresh surge and the positivity rate is between 14 to 15%.

“Fortunately, unlike the second wave, there is no pressure on  hospitals as most patients are being treated in home isolation. Nevertheless, we are watchful," he said.

“We have not yet taken any decision on the mandatory curbs for the public but there is certainly an outreach activity to advise people to take special care of persons with comorbidities in the families as they are more vulnerable. They need to be protected” said Panda, who is also the state’s health secretary.

The state government, he said, has increased the sampling to control the spread of the Covid infection in rural areas.

Samples of nearly 5000 people are being taken every day. Apart from this, the state government can also take a decision to take other strict steps.

Chief Secretary R D Dhiman has issued directions to all DCs,SPs, CMOs and Principles of all medical colleges to keep a close watch on the Covid cases and take prompt steps to check spread of the virus .

Asha Kumari, a six-time Congress MLA from Dalhousie ,admits that Covid surge in the state is a matter of concern at the time when Himachal Pradesh is going to the polls .

"I think ,the state government should take prompt steps to increase the sampling and vaccination drive, particularly precautionary Covid jabs for population between 19 to 59 years as have been decided to be Centre” she suggests, apart from advice to wear masks and avoid unnecessary visits to crowded places.

The central government has also conveyed its concern to the state about the increasing cases of Covid in Himachal Pradesh every day.

Last week  the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan  had a virtual meeting with the health officials of the states. In this, the state government was asked to handle the situation regarding corona patients increasing by three percent every day in Himachal.

Bhushan asked the state to increase the sampling, people should be given booster doses soon so that the infection can be stopped.

The neighbouring state of Uttarakhand has also reported an upsurge in  Covid cases this month with a positivity rate exceeding 10.65 percent and almost 180 to 190 cases adding to the overall numbers every day.

Similarly, Jammu and Kashmir has already reimposed restrictions and made wearing of masks mandatory.