Coronavirus outbreak: Now, Himachal shuts all its educational institutions, cinema halls

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The department of health and family welfare Saturday amended The Himachal Pradesh Epidemic Disease (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, notified under the Epidemic Diseases Act on March 11.

All educational institutions and cinema halls have been closed in Himachal Pradesh till March 31 as a precautionary measure to check transmission of novel coronavirus, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur Saturday informed the Vidhan Sabha.

“All the educational institutions, both in the public as well as private sector, shall remain closed till March 31. However, the annual and other examinations will take place as scheduled, and interns, residents and trainees in medical colleges will continue to perform clinical duties,” as per an order issued by additional chief secretary (health) RD Dhiman.

The government also directed the districts to regulate entry and exit at temple premises during the forthcoming Navratras scheduled from March 25 to April 2, and issued fresh advisories against other mass gathering events such as fairs, festivals, and public meetings.

Although not a single person has tested positive for the disease so far in Himachal, cases have been reported from neighbouring areas including Jammu, Ladakh, Punjab and Delhi NCR.

The department of health and family welfare Saturday amended The Himachal Pradesh Epidemic Disease (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, notified under the Epidemic Diseases Act on March 11, to empower the government and certain officers to issue orders for the surveillance, prevention, control and treatment of the disease.

In the Vidhan Sabha, meanwhile, some legislators expressed concern over the scheduled public celebrations during the Navratras, and also on the large inflow of tourists and visitors coming to meet the Dalai Lama, and the migrant labourers coming from Nepal.

Thakur said that the administration will ask the organising committees of the celebrations to restrict huge gatherings. The government has directed district magistrates to deploy surveillance personnel around temple premises, provide adequate facilities for washing hands with soap, and displaying information, education and communication (IEC) materials at various locations.

Thakur added that information on visitors coming to meet the Dalai Lama is being maintained by the government, and those coming from the affected countries are screened for symptoms. Following visa curbs announced by the Centre, the number of such visitors will reduce drastically, he said.

“A major challenge will be to monitor visitors coming via road. A large number of Nepal residents use the road network to come to Himachal,” Thakur said.

Thakur said 593 people have been kept under surveillance, he said, adding that information regarding 372 of them was obtained from the Bureau of Immigration with their recent travel history to Covid-19 affected countries. The remaining 221 people have reported to authorities on their own, Thakur said.

The samples of seven of them who had come to IGMC Shimla and RPGMC Tanda hospitals with cough or fever symptoms were found to be negative for COVID-19, he added.

Urging the people to cooperate with authorities, the chief minister said, “There is no need to panic. Take these steps as a positive step to check any possibility of spread of new coronavirus in the state as two persons have died in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Hamirpur admn to avoid Chaitra Fair

Shimla: The Hamirpur district administration will not participate in the month-long Chaitra Fair dedicated to Baba Balak Nath following an advisory by the Himachal Pradesh health department in wake of coronavirus scare, officials said on Saturday.

The health department has directed that fairs, festivals and tournaments or such events which result in congregation or gathering of a large number of people may be postponed to avoid spread of infection. In cases where such events are linked to some particular time of a religious event, adequate advisory be issued to general public not to gather or plan their visit to such events unless there are many compelling reasons to do so, special secretary (health) Amarjeet Singh said in a letter sent to all Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and Chief Medical Officers (CMOs).

Hamirpur DC Harikesh Meena confirmed the receipt of the official letter and stated that there would be no official function of the temple this year. No senior officers including Meena, who is the Commissioner of the Baba Balak Nath temple, will take part in the inaugural function at the time of flag hoisting ceremony on Saturday afternoon.

Usually, the DC performs the flag hoisting ceremony. However, the month-long fair will be held as per religious traditions.