Himachal’s Covid cases shot up by 92% in August

Violation of Covid-19 protocols seems to have put Himachal at risk for the third wave, with the state recording a 92% increase in infections in August, as compared to July
Tourists spotted without face masks on The Ridge in Shimla. Flouting of Covid norms is the major reason why cases in Himachal are consistently going up. (Deepak Sansta/HT)
Tourists spotted without face masks on The Ridge in Shimla. Flouting of Covid norms is the major reason why cases in Himachal are consistently going up. (Deepak Sansta/HT)
Published on Sep 02, 2021 02:03 AM IST
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ByGaurav Bisht, Shimla

Violation of Covid-19 protocols seems to have put Himachal at risk for the third wave, with the state recording a 92% increase in infections in August, as compared to July.

Though the cases had started waning by the end of June, the upward trend began again in July end. The hill-state recorded a total of 7,521 cases in August against 3,904 in July.

The positivity rate which was 0.9% in July, climbed to over 2% in the month gone by. The overall positivity rate in the state currently is 6.7%

Though the state government has made RT-PCR negative reports or vaccination certificate (both doses) mandatory for those trying to enter the state, there is no mechanism to check violations within the state boundaries.

There is also no check on social gatherings, where the cap on attendees has been set at 50 for indoor facilities and 50% of the total capacity in open spaces.

Norms are also being openly flouted in public transport, which are supposed to ply with 50% capacity but are running overcrowded.

The State Executive Committee (SEC) has been issuing guidelines from time-to-time but the implementation is not as stringent as it was during the second and first wave. “We are issuing guidelines, the government is increasing testing and tracking to detect the positive cases,” said health minister Rajiv Sehzal, though he stayed mum on rallies and political events being organised by the Congress as well as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

What is more worrying is that of the 28 oxygen plants sanctioned in the state, only three are functional so far while another six plants had to be set up in the state under corporate social responsibility

Mandi worst-hit: Political events to be blamed?

Mandi is the worst-hit district in the state, recording 1,839 infections—highest among all 12 districts— in the month of August, which was more than double the July figure of 821.

The central district, also the home turf of chief minister (CM) Jai Ram Thakur, has become a political hotbed in view of the Mandi parliamentary constituency byelections.

The CM himself has been extensively touring the district and addressing public rallies, where people have been openly flouting the norms.

There is no implementation of Covid safety rules in such events. Even the CM and leaders accompanying him have been seen without masks at such events.

Mandi, with a high positivity rate of 5%, is among the 67 high Covid positivity districts in the country along with Lahaul-Spiti. Mandi is followed by Kangra, the largest district in terms of population, with 1,444 cases and Chamba with 1,377 cases.

In the last one week, six of the 12 districts in the state had positivity rate above 2%. Lahaul-Spiti’s positivity rate is high but the absolute number of tests and cases reported is low compared to other districts.

Covid becoming lethal again

With rising infections, the number of fatalities has also gone up. In August, a total 77 people died of the infection as compared to 42 in July. Forty-seven people have died in last two weeks with weekly CFR crossing 1.5%. On an average, three to four fatalities are being reported daily in the state while the highest number in a day was six.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021