Unlock 1.0: A mixed bag for Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand unlock 1.0 was a mixed bag with patients recovering from coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a spike in the number of positive cases and over 70% of fresh deaths due to the contagion or comorbidities.
The unlock 1.0 was enforced from June 8 in a bid to the easing of lockdown restrictions, which were imposed in the hill state on March 22 to contain the spread of the pandemic.
In June, Uttarakhand has reported almost 67% of the total Covid-19 positive cases, as the overall tally stood at 2,831 till Monday (June 29).
The first Covid-19 positive case in the state was reported on March 15.
But in June, 61%, or over 3,600, Covid-19 tests were conducted to rein in the pandemic.
On June 23, over 100 days after the viral outbreak in Uttarakhand, the infection rate in the seven hilly districts were found to be higher, as compared to in the plain districts.
In June, 34 out of the total 39 Covid-19 related deaths were reported.
While over 2,000 people recovered from the viral infection during the month, as compared to 102 between March 15 and May 31.
Anoop Nautiyal, the founder of Social Development for Communities, a Dehradun-based think tank, who has been analysing the Covid-19 data in the hill state, said that despite increasing cases and deaths, recoveries have also increased during June.
“Uttarakhand saw a spike in Covid-19 positive cases in June. The recovery rate and aggressive testing have also increased during the month. The state has not crossed 1,000 active cases since the outbreak was first reported. On average, over 1,240 tests were done per day with an average of 66 Covid-19 positive cases and 64 recoveries during the past one month,” said Nautiyal.
The state government has also gradually opened up economic activities by easing of lockdown restrictions and allowing offices and markets to operate. Pilgrims from the state have also been allowed to visit Char Dham.
On June 8, the government had issued unlock guidelines for hotels, homestays, religious places, and shopping malls to reopen.
The guidelines, issued by state chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh, had allowed the hotels and homestays to open but prohibited them from taking bookings from visitors hailing from 31 high-viral load Covid-19 cities across the country.
It also barred hotels and homestays to reopen that are located in the containment zones and under the jurisdiction of Dehradun Municipal Corporation (DMC).
The guests from non-high-viral load Covid-19 cities were allowed to stay for a minimum period of seven days but barred from visiting public places and tourist spots.
The government also for the first time capped the number of pilgrims allowed to visit the Char Dham shrines and released a standard operating procedure (SOP) for pilgrims on June 9. Only residents from the districts, where the temples are situated, were allowed.
However, all residents from the state have been allowed to visit the shrines from Wednesday (July 1).
Ravinath Raman, chief executive officer (CEO), Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board, said that people from across the state would be allowed to visit the shrines following certain guidelines. However, anyone staying in a containment or buffer zone would not be allowed to enter any of the shrine premises. Anyone with symptoms similar to Covid-19 would not be allowed to undertake any pilgrimage, he added.
On June 16, the government had amended the norms and made violations such as not wearing face masks in public places and any violence perpetrated against health workers and damage to the public property a punishable offence under The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
Around 15,000 people have been booked for not wearing face-masks in public places and over 2,000 for the violation of social distancing norms in June, said Ashok Kumar, director-general, (law & order), Uttarakhand Police.
Anyone found not wearing a face mask or not maintaining social distancing in a public place could face a jail term of up to six months and a fine of Rs 5,000.
On June 19, the government had decided to double the fare for both state-run Uttarakhand Road Transport Corporation and private buses. The government raised the fare citing losses by bus operators amid criticism from the opposition.
The main opposition, Congress, termed the decision “against the common man and a systematic loot”.
On June 25, the government had announced a one-time payment Rs 1,000 each to Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers as frontline Covid-19 warriors battling against the viral outbreak.