A high Covid positivity rate of 26.3 per cent in Himachal has placed the state’s health services under a tremendous strain. The positivity and fatality rate has been on the rise for the past one week with. The count is too high for a small state like HP.
The state saw a jump of 6 per cent in positivity rate within a week. The fatality rate stands at 1.42. The active cases have touched a record 40,000 while the total cases since the outbreak of the pandemic have crossed the 1.50 lakh mark. Daily around 5000 new cases are coming in Himachal from around last one week.
Weddings and Kumbh returnees have proved to be super-spreaders. Even though the state government claims to produce more oxygen than is required, families who have lost their dear ones blame non-availability of the life-saving gas for the deaths. Alarmingly, the positivity rate has crossed 30 per cent in four districts — Sirmaur (38.4%), Shimla (34.10%), Industrial district of Solan (31.10%) and Mandi (30.60%).
Covid situation in industrial Belt of BBN
The industrial district that shares its borders with Punjab and Haryana sees heavy movement of migrant labour daily, Especially in Baddi and Nalagarh Area. Although the Covid Curfew is imposed in the districts but the Industrial activities are running in the full swing, as it has been exempted from the curfew restrictions.
The industrial belt of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) has become vulnerable. Lying on the borders of Haryana and Punjab, the industrial belt has 370 pharmaceutical firms, most of which are operational. With the shortage of medicines plaguing the nation, the government is facing a compelling situation to allow the workforce from within and outside the state. The presence of hundreds of migrants and drivers, who visit the area from all corners of the country on a daily basis, was another cause for concern.
ESIC Hospital at Katha, which is the lone hospital for the industrial area, has been converted into a Covid hospital. It is located between Baddi and Barotiwala, so the risk of the spread of infection is high.
Routine patients, continued to be dealt with at ESIC, Katha. This has further enhanced its risk quotient for the common man, visiting the hospital for common ailments, confide healthcare professionals.
There are a few isolation facilities available in the area. Though some space has been set aside at Community Health Centre, Nalagarh, it will fail to cater to the demand if the number surges.
The sudden spike has resulted in hospitals in the district being full to capacity. The district authorities are now working to ramp up the bed capacity by opening a new Covid Care Centre and seeking the help of private hospitals.
Next on the list is the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti, The infections were first noticed among migrant labourers and later spread to the local population who came in their contact. Last year, the district had seen a spurt in cases after the opening of Atal Tunnel.
Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, Shimla is full to capacity, The rush of patients is increasing by the day.
Even though the government has imposed a Covid curfew, the damage has already been done. The recent decision of the government to restrict the number of invitees to weddings to 20 has come rather late.
Kangra has been the worst-hit, reporting 1,277 new cases and 15 deaths on Thursday. Managing the swelling number of patients requiring hospitalisation has become a daunting task for the district administration
The state has ramped up testing as it conducted 1,02,455 Covid tests last week, while 84,351 tests were done in the preceding week.
Efforts on to normalise non-Covid health services
The health department is making efforts to provide non-Covid essential services such as maternal, newborn and child-care besides dialysis, tuberculosis treatment, HIV and maintenance of voluntary blood donation. Chief medical officers and medical superintendents have been asked not to delay essential services to any patient for want of a Covid-negative test result.
What CM Jai Ram Thakur Said
After reviewing the Covid situation, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said that an additional 1,500 beds will be made available for Covid patients.
Liquid oxygen plants will soon be functional in all three major medical colleges of the state, namely IGMC, Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Tanda and the medical college at Nerchowk in Mandi district.
He said people of the state coming from different parts of the country must stay in home isolation for at least a week to rule out any possibility of spreading the virus, in case they are infected.