The Himachal Pradesh government will focus on expanding and increasing health infrastructure to tackle any situation arising out of a sharp surge in Covid-19 cases in the state, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said on Monday.

After a review meeting of Covid-19 situation in Mandi and Kullu districts, Thakur said work on prefabricated hospitals at Bangrotu and Mother-Child Hospital, Mandi must be expedited and completed at the earliest so that ICU bed capacity could be increased.

Besides, the Transport department must ensure effective sanitization of buses and other public transport, and shopkeepers must also ensure to strictly follow the ‘No Mask, No Service’ policy.

In addition, private bus operators must be requested to properly sanitize their buses and also ensure plying buses without overcrowding, he added.

The Chief Minister said the district administrations must ensure that social functions such as marriages etc strictly follow the maximum limit prescribed for such events and action, if required could be taken against the violators.

“The district administrations must also ensure that adequate arrangements are made to meet out the demand in case of any major surge in the cases.

The residents must be motivated to use face masks and hand sanitizers and also avoid overcrowding in public places.

Apart from this, effective regulation of devotees must also be ensured in temples and other religious places to avoid overcrowding,” he said.

He further stated that Kullu district being a major tourist place, witnesses the arrival of lakhs of tourists every year, hence, steps must be taken to ensure that all the tourists visiting the district strictly follow SoPs issued from time to time.

“All the guidelines need to be followed and implemented strictly. The Ayurveda department must also provide ‘kadha’ to the patients under home isolation but they should be properly guided regarding its proper consumption.

Besides, proper sanitization drive must also be done in urban areas by the sanitary workers,” he said.

He directed the Police department to ensure that no casualness be adopted by the tourists, particularly in tour ist spots such as Manikaran, Kasol, Manali etc.

State Health secretary Amitabh Awasthi said the pace of vaccination must be increased as this was an effective tool of protection from the virus and adequate doctors, para medical staff and equipment would be provided in all the hospitals of the district.

He called for evolving proper mechanisms to monitor the condition of patients under home isolation.

“A total of 1,33,878 samples were tested in Mandi district with 443 active cases and the positivity ratio was 8.25 per cent while fatality rate was 1.2 per cent. 51 per cent cases in the district are from urban areas with 25 percent cases from Mandi town alone and a total of 1,64,280 vaccine doses have been administered in the district till date,” Deputy Commissioner Mandi Rugved Thakur informed.

Deputy Commissioner Kullu Dr Richa Verma, while participating in the meeting virtually from Kullu, said that there had been a sharp surge in the number of Covid cases in the district.

“Maximum deaths have been reported in the district due to Covid-19 and co-morbidity. A total of 57,612 doses of vaccine have been administered in the district till date,” Verma added.