A confused strategy to handle Covid-19 pandemic has done all the harm in the small state of Himachal Pradesh, where people are generally law-abiding and have been following the ‘stay home’ norm without much violation since the first lockdown on 23 March.

It is the talk of the town that the state government took some steps in a haste without setting up systems on the ground due to which Himachal Pradesh, which was about to get corona free status on 3 May with just one active case of Covid-19 left, now has 18 active cases of coronavirus. The total positive cases in HP so far are 59, including two deaths.

The government faltered first when it suddenly opened the doors for thousands of stranded Himachalis in one go, without ensuring that each one of them is tested or properly quarantined at the border, before entering the state, to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

Not surprisingly, while over one lakh people have already entered the state over last ten days, the state government is still in the midst of working out quarantine protocol (home and institutional) for those who are coming from outside, including the red zones.

Also, there is no mechanism in place to check whether the people who came from outside, are following the home quarantine, as told, or not. In some areas, proper addresses of such people, are not available, which is creating problems in surveillance.

Belatedly, however, after much damage has already been done, Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur today told Deputy Commissioners and District Police Chiefs to ensure that the home quarantine mechanism should be made stringent so that people don’t jump it.

In a video conference, he asked the officers to strengthen the institutional quarantine facility in view of a large number of Himachalis stranded in various parts of the country willing to come back to their native places.

“As many as 55000 people of the state have applied for e-pass for entering in state. A large number of people would be coming from red zones so they would require institutional quarantine facility,” the CM said, asking the officers to identify an adequate number of such facilities in their respective districts.

He said that all the people coming from red zones and with Influenza like Illness (ILI) symptoms must be kept in institutional quarantine.

“Each and every person entering the state should be thoroughly medically examined and only then decided whether he/she has to be kept under institutional quarantine or home quarantine,” he said.

The CM said the institutional quarantine facilities must be created in such a way that people willing to pay for better facilities would be provided with the same on payment basis.

He said that about 300 students would also be arriving from Ukraine at Chandigarh soon. He said that all these students would be kept under institutional quarantine.

He said that it should be ensured that these institutions were away from busy areas and have an independent facility like washrooms etc and have proper hygiene and sanitation.

Thakur said that two special trains would reach Una on 13 and 15 My from other parts of the state, so the DC Una should make foolproof arrangements to ensure that there is no chaos and elaborate arrangements are made for their medical examination along with the further journey to their respective districts.