Uttarakhand’s hilly areas lack containment zones despite spike in Covid-19 cases
With lockdown 5.0 being restricted to only containment zones now according to the latest guidelines issued by the Central government, hilly districts of Uttarakhand which have been reporting a significant number of Covid-19 cases in the last one-week, lack well-defined containment zones.
Districts like Nainital which have the highest number of coronavirus cases with over 220 positive cases do not have a single containment zone.
Savin Bansal, district magistrate of Nainital said that the district does not have any containment zone as all the Covid-19 cases from the sudden spike in the past one week includes migrant workers.
“All the cases that have been reported in the past one week, which caused a sudden spike in the number of coronavirus cases from Nainital district, were migrants who mostly returned from Maharashtra, Gujarat or Delhi. All these people were immediately quarantined at institutional facilities and their samples were tested. These people did not interact with local residents giving a chance for the virus to spread in the community, which is why we have not declared any containment zones in the district,” Bansal said.
The district magistrate added that all the patients testing positive in Nainital are not necessarily residents of the district and many belong to other districts like Almora, Bageshwar or Pithoragarh; “but as they have tested Covid-19 positive in Nainital, they are being counted in the district tally hence increasing the numbers.”
Bansal also said that the district administration has started the process of sending Covid-19 positive cases from districts other than Nainital to their home districts for treatment at Covid Care Centres, so that there is no shortage of beds at designated Covid-19 hospitals in Nainital district.
“Susheela Tiwari Hospital in Haldwani is basically meant for Tier-3 Covid-19 cases, but till now Tier-1 and Tier-2 cases which are mostly asymptomatic patients are being treated there. Now with increasing cases, we do not want to face a shortage of beds, so we have started the process of sending Covid-19 positive patients from other districts to Covid Care Centres where they can be treated till they are discharged,” added the district magistrate of Nainital.
With strict lockdown being restricted to containment zones in Lockdown 5.0, officials say that the district magistrates have the power to decide upon containment zones.
Uttarakhand has a total of 31 containment zones in districts like Dehradun (8), Haridwar (15), Udham Singh Nagar (4), Pauri Garhwal (2) and Tehri Garhwal (2).
Officials from the state Covid-19 control room said that an area is declared as a containment zone if a lot of cases are reported from the same locality. An official from the Covid-19 control room, requesting anonymity, further said that district magistrates of the hilly districts are not willing to declare areas as containment zones as these areas are scattered. Only two hilly districts of Pauri Garhwal and Tehri have two containment zones each.
Uttarakhand has so far reported almost 750 Covid-19 cases of which 102 people have successfully recovered. The infection rate in the state stands at 3.25% while the rate of recovery is 14.03%.