DEHRADUN/NAINITAL: The number of Covid-19 cases in the nine hill districts of Uttarakhand has spiralled, almost doubling in the past 40 days. Equally worrying is that deaths have also shot up -- it is three times the figure compared to last year.
Pauri, the worst-affected hill district, recorded 5,215 cases between March 2020 and March 2021. In the period between April 1 and May 13, though, the district’s tally shot up to 12,970. Till March 31 this year, Pauri had 60 Covid-19 deaths. The number went up to 200 in the period between April 1 and May 13. Another significant spike has been in Almora where cases went up from 56 between March 2020 and March 2021. It was 1,318 between April 1 and May 13 this year. The number of deaths went up from 26 to 89 in the corresponding period.
The situation in Uttarkashi, another prominent hill district, is no different. The district reported 3,828 cases between March 2020 and March 2021. In the period between April 1 and May 13 this year, 5,492 fresh cases were recorded. Deaths went up too — from 17 between March 2020 and March 2021 to 43 in between April 1 and May 13 this year.
Uttarakhand is among the eight states red-flagged by the central government where Covid cases are increasing rapidly in rural areas. According to health department officials, returnees, weddings and funerals are primarily fuelling this spread in the hills.
“We believe that migrant workers who have returned have mainly caused this rise. There were many who also visited Kumbh mela and tested positive after returning from there,” said additional chief medical officer, Bhatwari, Dr Bipul Biswas.
Similar instances of mass infections were reported in Kumaon’s Champawat district which has seen a three-fold rise in cases as well as deaths. Here, a cluster of villages that is at least eight km away from any motorable road reported three deaths of people with Covid-likesymptoms. They could not be tested since medical teams could not reach the area.
Anoop Nautiyal of Dehradun-based Social Development for Communities Foundation, an organisation closely tracking the pandemic in the Himalayan state, said it was a matter of great concern in the hills of Uttarakhand. “This is a big jump,” he said, adding, "Immediate measures are required to improve testing in the hills, provide medicines and improve healthcare facilities.
Secretary (health) Amit Negi said, "Uttarakhand is already testing the maximum people per lakh population compared to other states in the country. The second wave has gripped the entire nation equally. We are increasing tests and healthcare facilities and trying to reach patients in remote areas as much as we can.”