Covid-free not long ago, Ladakh sees 198 new cases

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Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu | Published: June 14, 2020 3:51:32 am

Coronavirus cases, covid test, Jammu cases, Jammu news, Indian express news Saturday’s confirmed cases takes the total to 437 cases in Ladakh, including 368 active ones. One person has died; 68 patients have so far recovered in the UT. (Representational)

Nearly a month after the Union Territory was declared coronavirus-free, Ladakh has seen a huge spike in cases in the last 48 hours, reporting 198 confirmed cases from Kargil district on Saturday, the highest single-day figure so far, prompting the UT Administration to reenforce strict lockdown in Kargil district from Friday midnight.

This comes a day after the UT reported 104 cases on Friday, with Kargil reporting 69 and Leh 35.

Saturday’s confirmed cases takes the total to 437 cases in Ladakh, including 368 active ones. One person has died; 68 patients have so far recovered in the UT.

The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) has said the administration should take similar measures in Leh district as well and enfoce a lockdown to contain the virus.

Pointing out that the Union Home Ministry’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) for removing the lockdown are for the entire country, the Council has asked the UT Administration to firm up Ladakh-specific SOPs keeping in view the emerging situation, an LAHDC councilor said.

Ladakh, comprising Leh and Kargil districts with a combined population of nearly 5 lakh, was one of the first regions in the country to report a Covid-positive case back in March, While it had reported 43 confirmed cases at one time, the UT was declared Covid-free on May 15.

Kargil, which had before that reported nine positive cases, had become free of the virus even earlier – on April 19 – officials pointed out.

Kargil Deputy Commissioner Baseer-ul-Haq Choudhary said the new cases were being reported from among people who have returned home from different parts of the country.

While Ladakh’s Divisional Commissioner Saugat Biswas asked The Sunday Express to contact Health Secretary Rigzian Sampheal for Covid queries, the latter did not respond to repeated phone calls during the day.

Sources attributed the recent spike in positive cases to the return of nearly 40,000 people to Ladakh from different parts of the country.

Having remained Covid-free until May 20, Ladakh reported a fresh case in a person who had returned from Iran. The man, who comes from Chuchut Yokma, was already under hotel quarantine, officials said.

As movement of people, including resumption of air traffic, began from May 25, more cases emerged. By May 31, the number rose to 34, with Ladakh reporting 20 cases in a single day on May 29.

The UT has one Covid hospital each in Leh and Kargil. Between them, they have 87 isolation beds for Covid-positive patients and 103 isolation beds for symptomatic contacts, besides 1,669 beds to quarantine people in hospitals and hotels across the UT.

In view of the recent spike in cases, the Health Department has set up a Covid testing lab at Chuchot Yokma, apart from sending samples to Delhi. “The spike is also due to delayed arrival of test reports of people quarantined on their return,’’ a health official said.

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