On the heels of the festive season, the health department has mooted a proposal to ban public gatherings and cap guests at marriage ceremonies and social functions to mitigate the spurt in Covid cases across the state.
Covid cases in Himachal have been increasing at an alarming rate after the government unlocked all activities, reopened schools and relaxed restrictions on social gatherings. Himachal Pradesh recorded 7,674 cases in the first fortnight of November— a 35%jump in infections. November’s fortnightly tally surpasses the cumulative cases recorded in October. The state had detected 7,083 cases in October and 8,938 cases in September.
Authorities say lax precautions at marriage ceremonies was one of the prime reasons for sudden spurt cases across the state. Marriage ceremonies have emerged as hotspots for infections in Mandi, Kullu and Shimla district. In Shimla district, the apple belt, comprising Kotgarh, Kumarsain, Jubbal-Kotkhai, Rohru and Rampur, was most affected. Last month, the state government had increased the guest limit in social gatherings from 100 to 200.
Shimla, Mandi and Kullu districts have seen the maximum rise in infections. Shimla recorded the highest number of cases (1,812) during this period,registering a spike of 72%. Similarly, Mandi recorded 1,646 cases, recording a spike of 54.4%, and Kullu logged 881 cases, registering a 36.2% hike in cases.
Kangra, which is the most dense district in the state, recorded 814 cases in the fortnight, registering a jump of 26.4%.
In the last week alone, the percentage of new infections increased to 2.2%. The recovery rate has dropped to 75% from the 85% recorded in October-end. So far, 22,500 people have recovered in the state.
1.5% case fatality ratio
Meanwhile, there has been a slight increase in the death rate of the state. The case fatality ratio is 1.5%. So far, 441 patients have succumbed to the virus, of which 129 died in November alone.
The state has conducted 4, 58,629 tests, which comes to 62,825 tests per million population. There are more than 4,000 positive cases per million population.
Lahual-spiti, where residents have barred tourism to prevent the spread of Covid, has also witnessed a steep increase with122 cases reported in a single-day on November 15.
The opening of schools had further accelerated the spread of Covid. The government had opened schools and other education institutions on November 2. However, in light of the spike of cases closed all educational institutions till November 25.
The decision drew flak from the Opposition parties, which charged the government of mishandling the pandemic. The health department has also sent a proposal to the government asking them to curb social gathering. “We have forwarded a proposal to the government asking them to curb social gatherings,” said a senior health official, requesting anonymity.
“The government should set up a committee of experts otherwise the situation will become graver. It is high time that the government re-works its strategy and curbs social gatherings”,said former Shimla mayor Sanjay Chauhan.
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