Himachal Pradesh, which saw a rush of tourists since the month of June, is now witnessing a surge in new COVID-19 cases. This stands in contrast to other North Indian states who are reporting less than 100 cases daily.
The state reported 419 new cases on August 11, the highest since June 12, 2021. Barring Punjab that reported over 100 new cases only on August 12 and Jammu and Kashmir that saw cases between 90-150 cases, other North Indian states have been reporting less than 100 cases daily.
Officials of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had requested tourists not to rush to the state when lockdown restrictions were relaxed and pictures of tourists in Shimla and Manali surfaced on social media. Although, BOOM found that some of the viral images were old, the mountainous state filled with tourist spots witnessed an influx of tourists after it revised its policies allowing people to travel within the state without mandatory e-passes.
In light of the increasing cases, the state is now enforcing more stringent guidelines to visit and travel within the state. Chief Secretary Ram Bhujang Singh released a new set of guidelines on August 11 wherein a negative RT-PCR report is now mandatory to enter the state. Most tourists visit the state either from Delhi or neighbouring Punjab. While Delhi has controlled its growth in cases, Punjab has reported a spurt in cases in the last 24 hours.
Tourists visiting the state are now required to either show a negative RT-PCR report showing testing results of the last 72 hours, a negative rapid antigen test conducted in the last 24 hours, or a fully vaccinated certificate showing that the person received both doses 14 days before they visited the state.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also revealed that the reproductive number- the rate at which an infection is transmitted to others- is close to 1.3 which is a likely cause of worry. This indicates that every infected person is at least theoretically infecting 1.3 other people who are further exponentially affecting the same number. According to the WHO, a reproductive number of less than 1 signifies that the transmission of a disease is under control.
BOOM reached out to Nisha Singh, Secretary Health, Himachal Pradesh to understand the trajectory of the disease in the state but she declined to comment.
How Is Himachal Pradesh Faring In Comparison To Other North Indian States
In the week between August 6- August 12, Himachal Pradesh has reported the highest number of cases compared to other states in the North Indian belt. Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand have been reporting lesser than 100 cases daily. Only Punjab reported over 100 cases on August 12.
Along with the increasing COVID-19 cases, the state is also dealing with a surge in natural disasters as rains lashed the state in June and there have been multiple landslides in the upper hills. The state witnessed its last major landslide on August 11 in Kinnaur district, resulting in the death of 40 people.
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