No case of COVID-19 was reported from Himachal Pradesh for the seventh day in a row on Wednesday, health officials said. Samples of 389 people from across the state were tested for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, out of which 227 tested negative while the results of the remaining 162 were awaited at the time of filing of this report.
There are now 10 active cases in the state, including four in Una, two each in Chamba and Hamirpur and one each in Sirmaur and Kangra. There have been a total of 41 confirmed cases in the state so far since March 19, including two patients who passed away due to the disease.
Meanwhile, residents of the state who were stranded outside continued to pour in. “We have now started an app-based data entry system for all those coming through the inter-state borders in order to ensure a faster mechanism. All details will be saved at the backend for easy access,” said Una SP Dr Karthikeyan G.
Shanta expresses concern
Meanwhile, veteran BJP leader Shanta Kumar expressed concern over violation of social distancing on Himachal Pradesh-Punjab border by those returning to their native places in the state. As many as 23,361 people have returned to their native places in Himachal Pradesh in their own vehicles from April 26 to 28 after getting e-passes from the respective district magistrates.
The former CM stated that he was worried due to the crowd and carelessness. “People in large numbers have started gathering on the state border for returning to HP, medical examination of so many people is not possible,” he added.
Urging Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to reconsider his decision of providing full relaxation to stranded HP residents to return, Kumar advised him to allow only a limited number of people daily to return. Kumar also advised the CM to lodge such HP residents in institutional quarantine instead of asking them to remain in home quarantine.
He said, “They have been asked to remain at home for 14 days. They have not come to remain in isolation. Following rules is not possible. Entry for those coming from outside should be only to the extent daily which may be examined and may be kept in quarantine as per rules.”
Hoteliers seek help
A Shimla hoteliers’ delegation has requested Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to direct Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) to pay salaries of hotels’ staff not only for the lockdown period but also for six months after the coronavirus lockdown.
A three-member delegation of Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association (SHRA) led by its president Sanjay Sood met the CM at his official residence in Oakover.
Sood later said they also requested CM to adjust for the next financial year the excise already paid by the hoteliers for the current financial year as there is no work due to the lockdown. They also requested to charge electricity, power and garbage bills against actual consumption or usage of service instead of commercial charges, which are around 10 times more than the actual consumption.
The delegation requested the CM to direct ESIC to pay the salaries of the staff since the staff is technically on leave due this medical emergency and ESIC usually pays the salary of the staff members when they are on leave due to some medical condition. For the staff who are beyond the coverage limit of the ESIC, the establishments may be allowed to pay 25 per cent of the salary and balance may be paid by the government or government agency like Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), they added.
Sood said the CM had already written to the centre for paying salaries of the hotel staff through ESIC.