Himachal emerges as hotspot

As social and religious gatherings flagrantly took precedence over the precautionary Covid practices prescribed to keep coronavirus at bay, Himachalis need to individually introspect why their state has emerged as a hotspot with an alarmingly high Covid positivity rate. Large-scale weddings and pilgrimages, along with the inability of the government to foresee and control the brazen slip-ups, have slid the small hill state into an unprecedented public health crisis. The modest medical infrastructure is tottering under the burgeoning numbers of patients. While pointing out the worrisome fact a couple of days ago that nearly 90 per cent of the country is witnessing a high positivity rate of Covid-19, the Centre had highlighted that Himachal Pradesh was among the states seeing a disturbing trend.

After the national positivity rate having dipped slightly to settle below 20 per cent, HP’s positivity rate has significantly climbed by 6 per cent in the past one week and crossed the 26 per cent mark as the virus has penetrated the hinterland. Particularly staggering under the strain of an immense caseload is Sirmaur — that has registered a mountainous 38.4 per cent positivity rate — as also Shimla, Solan and Mandi, all with more than 30 per cent rate. Notably, as per the WHO, the positivity rate should remain below 5 per cent for two weeks, before a government could start easing restrictions. With the state’s health services, not surprisingly, proving inadequate to cater to the surge of those in need of urgent medical care and equipment, including the life-saving oxygen, the case fatality rate (CFR) among Covid patients in the state stands at 1.42 — higher than the national average CFR of 1.09 per cent.

It is imperative for the people to strictly adhere to the containment and corrective measures put in place. Public cooperation at the local level holds the key to breaking the deadly chain of transmission. At the same time, as the Himachal High Court directed, the government’s Covid response strategy must ensure equitable access to testing, medicine and hospital beds across the state.

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