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Covid-19: HP wakes up to the need of staggered entry passes and quarantine

Only after facing criticism from public and opposition and witnessing a rise in Covid-19 cases this week after allowing thousands of Himachalis come back from other parts of the country in one go, the Himachal government decided to review the strategy.

Archana Phull | Shimla |

Inviting sharp criticism from public and opposition over the entry of thousands of Himachali residents from outside over last week amid Covid-19 pandemic without a proper plan for testing and quarantine mechanism in place, the Himachal Pradesh government today woke up to the need of issuing staggered entry passes to people of state keen on coming back and following strict quarantine norms for them.

“The passes to all those keen on coming back to Himachal must be issued in a staggered manner to avoid unnecessary crowding at the entry points of the state.

All of them must be examined and it should be decided whether they need to be kept under home quarantine or institutional quarantine,” Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur told the officers today.

He asked them to compile complete data of persons who have arrived in Himachal Pradesh from other states and said the persons coming from red zone must be kept in quarantine centre.

The Chief Minister said institutional quarantine centres must be identified in the state and care must be taken that these centres should be in a secluded place away from residential and busy areas.

“It must be ensured that the person jumping home quarantine should be immediately shifted to institutional quarantine,” he said.

After a gap of over a week when the state was about to get the corona free status, it saw the Covid-19 positive cases trickling in every day since Monday, including one death on Tuesday. One case was confirmed today when a woman from Mandi was tested positive at Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) hospital Shimla.

Sources said the death of a Shimla woman, who was home quarantined after return from Patiala on Wednesday, while she was being taken to IGMC hospital in Shimla earlier in the day by ambulance after she developed some problems, is also being linked to Covid-19—though her test report is awaited.

According to Additional Chief Secretary, RD Dhiman, the state has so far reported 46 cases (six of them, including one death, in this week) with two deaths. Dhiman said the total number of active cases is now 6.

The state has tested 9004 persons for Covid-19 so far and put 17, 492 persons on surveillance, out of whom 6970 persons have completed the 28 days of surveillance. Out of 522 samples taken today, 127 have been found negative, while the test report of 395 is yet awaited.

“Everyone needs to be cautious now as many people have come to the state from outside, who have been asked for home quarantine. Their families members, friends and neighbours should also maintain social distance as many persons, who tested positive for Covid-19, had no symptoms,” Dhiman said.

The government has already invited the ire of opposition Congress for this mess-up for having allowed so many people in one go without systems in place and putting the entire population on risk owing to lack of vision.

“Maybe the state needs another Active Case Finding (ACF) campaign to reach out to everyone door to door for health details after all those, who want to come back to the state, are in,” the officials in the field said.