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Tourists restricted to 5 km after the Atal tunnel as COVID-19 hits Himachal villages

The state government on Monday decided to impose night curfew in four districts of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi and Kangra from 8 pm to 6 am.

Published: 24th November 2020 02:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th November 2020 10:14 AM   |  A+A-

Security personnel stand guard outside the world's longest highway tunnel on Manali-Leh national highway ahead of its inauguration. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: The Covid-19 has spread to remote high-altitude areas of Himachal Pradesh. Out of the 41 panchayats with 14,000 people in Lahaul and Spiti sharing border with China, seven have reported a surge in cases.The district administration has restricted tourists around 5km from the north portal of Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass.

The state government on Monday decided to impose night curfew in four districts of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi and Kangra from 8 pm to 6 am.

Around 2,000 cases have been reported in the last fortnight in Shimla and Mandi. Education institutions in the hill state will remain closed till December 31.

The government will also conduct an intensive statewide survey from November 25 to December 27 to identify Covid cases. Lahaul & Spiti Deputy Commissioner Pankaj Rai said some 950 cases have been reported in the district, of which, 500 people have recovered.

“Around 6,000 samples have been taken following aggressive sampling in the last few days,” he said. Nodal officers have been appointed in each panchayat to educate and sensitise the villagers.

“To contain the spread, orders have been issued banning the outsiders’ entry. The ban will be in place till further orders,” he said. People have been advised that if any local returning home from outside the district shows symptoms of the virus, he must isolate himself from the family.

Recently, at Tholang village in Lahaul sub-division, 41 of the 42 residents who participated in a function to honour a local deity were infected. The total population of the village is 169, but the authorities said the rest of the people might have migrated temporarily.

The state government has decided that all social, political, cultural and sports gatherings in open areas would be restricted to 200 persons with social distancing.

A fine of Rs 1,000 will be imposed on those not wearing face masks in public places. 

The state also recorded 22 fatalities on Monday, raising the death toll to 551, officials said.

Twelve deaths were reported from Shimla, three each from Mandi and Kangra, two from Bilaspur and one each from Kullu and Solan, according to date provided by the Health Department.

Of the deceased, fifteen were men and seven women of the age group between 37 and 80, it stated.

The state also reported 454 new COVID-19 cases, taking the infection count to 34,782.

A total of 785 patients recovered from the disease on Monday, pushing the total number of recoveries to 27,518.

Twenty-three people have migrated out of the state, the Health Department said.

The state currently has 6,680 active COVID-19 cases.

The night curfew will be in place from Tuesday to December 15 in Shimla, Mandi, Kangra and Kullu districts from 8 pm to 6 am, state's Parliamentary Affairs minister Suresh Bhardwaj said.

Till December 31, only 50 per cent of class III and IV employees on the rolls will attend government offices each day.

Gatherings at social, cultural and political events will be capped at 200 people and those who don't wear masks in public will cough up a fine of Rs 1,000.

The fresh curbs were announced after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

Meanwhile, the office of Kangra Superintendent of Police was ordered shut for two more days after remaining closed for three days, following COVID-19 cases among its staff.

Six more coronavirus cases were detected there, an official said in Dharamshala.

Most schools in Himachal Pradesh had reopened only on November 1 after remaining shut for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But with infections being reported from some of them, the state government had ordered all educational institutions shut till November 25.

Now, they will remain closed till December 31.

Bhardwaj said online studies would begin from November 26.

The minister said teachers will continue to work from home till further orders.

Offices of high schools, senior secondary schools and colleges will also function from November 26.

Principals can call faculty members to work if required, he added.

He said students in classes 1 to 4 and classes 6 and 7 would be promoted as per the provisions of the Right to Education Act.

The final examinations for classes 5 and 8 to 11 will be conducted in March, he added.

The Himachal Pradesh board exams for classes 10 and 12 will take place in March with 30 per cent relaxation in syllabus.

(With PTI Inputs)



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