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State’s test positivity rate low, no irregularity in purchase of PPE kits: Himachal Pradesh CM

As on Thursday evening, the state had reported a total of 369 Covid-19 cases, including 197 active cases. Of these, 161 patients are those who returned from Maharashtra and 86 patients tested positive after returning from Delhi.

By: Express News Service | Shimla | June 4, 2020 9:25:14 pm
Jai Ram Thakur, Himachal curfew, coronavirus cases, Covid-19 test, Shimla news, indian express news Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur (File photo)

The positivity rate of Covid-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh is currently one per cent as compared to the national positivity rate of 5.5 per cent, CM Jai Ram Thakur said on Thursday. He said that the current testing capacity in the state is 4,602 per million, which is higher than the national average of 2,762 per million. The recovery rate in the state is 40 percent, added the CM.

Positivity rate is the total number of confirmed cases per hundred tests. As on Thursday evening, the state had reported a total of 369 Covid-19 cases, including 197 active cases. Of these, 161 patients are those who returned from Maharashtra and 86 patients tested positive after returning from Delhi, Thakur told the press.

In early May, the state was left with a single active patient, but there was a surge in the number of patients after residents stranded in other states were allowed to return home. Thakur said that around 1.7 lakh people have returned so far, including 6,115 people who returned in special trains and 45,000 people who returned by buses. The state government incurred an expenditure of around Rs 3.5 crore in bringing back people in trains and buses, said the Chief Minister.

“Initially, we had two testing laboratories conducting 100 to 150 tests a day. Now, 1,400-1,500 tests per day are being conducted in five laboratories, and we’re trying to establish three more laboratories,” Thakur said.

Medical purchase controversies

Thakur said that in the alleged corruption case involving the director of health services, there was no irregularity in the purchase of PPE kits by the government. “The case was registered based on a conversation between the director and another person. When we heard the audio clip, prompt action was ordered,” he said.

“In another case involving the purchase of sanitisers, a superintendent was suspended and three people charge-sheeted,” he said.

The CM added that an anonymous letter was received by the government alleging irregularities in the purchase of ventilators. However, ventilators were purchased as per the prices mentioned on the government e-marketplace (GeM) portal, and no irregularities were found.

“I receive 5 to 7 anonymous letters every day. They are often written with a motive to settle scores or for political vendetta. We have registered a criminal case of defamation against the sender of the letter and are trying to trace him or her,” said Thakur.

Replying to media queries on the resignation of state BJP president Dr Rajeev Bindal, Thakur said that some people and the media were trying to portray Prithvi Singh, the man in conversation with the director in the audio clip, as being a close associate of Bindal. So he resigned on moral grounds to ensure an impartial probe into the matter, he said.

Singh, a resident of Sangrah block in Sirmaur, had recorded the audio clip of the telephonic conversation between himself and the health services director Dr A K Gupta. Based on the clip, the latter was arrested, and is currently out on bail.

Thakur also alleged that the state Congress unit has sent a bill of Rs 12 crore to their party head office at the Centre, claiming to have used it in Covid-19 relief in the state. “Where have they spent this money? I also want to see the PPE kits provided by them,” he alleged.

Cong, CPM demand probe into health dept ‘scams’

The CPM and Congress have been demanding an independent probe by a sitting High Court judge into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of medical equipment by the health department. On Thursday, Congress leaders led by state president Kuldeep Singh Rathore and Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri submitted a memorandum to the Governor alleging that purchases worth crores of rupees are being made in the health department without following the prescribed process or tender procedure.

The party demanded a “white paper” by the government on various medical purchases during the pandemic.

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