Himachal Pradesh government is once again on toes in the fight against Covid-19, with thousands of residents stuck outside making a beeline to come back home and over 80,000 of them already having arrived in the state over last some days.
And that too happening when many relaxations have been given in the state, half of which is a green zone in the third lockdown.
Official sources said unseen gaps in the mechanism for testing and quarantine (home and institutional) still remains a worry for Himachal with so many new entrants involved, and a little laxity in this can prove dangerous in public health emergency.
The state, which had reported 40 Covid-19 positive cases, including one death, till a week ago witnessed one more positive case on Monday, that of a person coming from Delhi to Chauntara in Mandi district on 29 April and another death on Tuesday. While two cases are active, 34 have been cured and four had opted for treatment outside the state.
“Himachal Pradesh has generally done well since the first two cases of Covid-19 came to light on 20 March. But there is a reason to feel shaky now, with so many people entering from outside. We are testing them as per set protocol and are keeping track through an App also, but even then, it is a worrying point,” said Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, RD Dhiman.
The state had shown extra caution when three Covid-19 positive cases were initially reported from Kangra district, including one death of a Tibetan, by imposing lockdown on 23 March and then curfew on 24 March. After some goof-ups in the beginning by commoners in HP, who had no idea of curfew in the peaceful state which has never seen such a restriction except for few parts in the 80s, things remained smooth in HP.
The Covid-19 positive cases rose in Himachal when there was issue of people who returned from Markaz in Delhi. But that too was resolved with Police and Health department coming into action quickly.
The problems in the small state reportedly arose due to partial and flip flop political approach adopted by the state government. The government in HP at the outset allowed some influential people, including Lok Sabha MPs from Kangra and Mandi, to come back from Delhi, while exhorting the common people to stay wherever they were in the country.
Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur issued repeated appeals in this regard till the last week.
However, with pressure mounting from the opposition Congress and hundreds of people frantically calling from different parts of the country and CM personally getting involved in the process, the government adopted a liberal approach.
After goof up on 27-28 April, when there were long queues on the border towards Una district, throwing all norms of social distancing to winds, the state government ordered to restrict the issuance of passes to those willing to come from outside- only to allow it again a couple of days later when the Centre asked the states to permit entry of people stuck outside.