The Uttarakhand government has decided to use helicopters to carry Covid-19 samples to testing laboratories if roads are blocked due to landslides. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has given directions to this effect in a recent meeting with Health Department and Disaster Management officials.
Health Secretary Amit Negi told The Indian Express that Rawat has stated that there should not be any delay in carrying samples to testing laboratories due to road blockades, and helicopters should be used to transport the samples if found necessary.
Helicopters for this purpose will be provided when the district magistrate concerned will communicate its requirement if a blocked road in a remote area cannot be opened for vehicular movement over a period of three-four days. In such situations, helicopters will fly from Dehradun to pick up the samples.
Uttarakhand has recorded 16,014 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday and 213 deaths. The state is collecting more than 8,000 samples per day at present, and aiming to increase the testing rate, the government has set a target of testing 10,000 samples per day soon.
To increase the testing rate, it is essential that samples are delivered to laboratories on time and the backlog is cleared. As per data of the Health Department, 8,809 samples were sent for testing on Tuesday and the results of 14058 samples were awaited.
An official said that helicopters can reach any remote area of the hill state in an hour and samples will be delivered to testing labs the same day.
It is common for roads in hilly areas of the state to get blocked due to landslides during the monsoons. Some of the districts that get worst affected are Pithoragarh, Rudraprayag, Pauri, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Tehri, Nainital, Champawat, Almora and Bageshwar. An official said that most of the roads are cleared for traffic movement within 5-6 hours.