According to the COVID19 India Dashboard tracking the coronavirus pandemic, India has 177 confirmed cases with 4 death reported as of now. The state of Uttrakhand has reported 3 positive cases out of 114 samples sent for testing. The only test centre in the state is at Government Medical College, Haldwani. The first case of COVID-19 was reported from Uttrakhand on 15 March. An IFS trainee, who recently had a travel history to Spain, returned to Forest Research Institute (FRI) in Dehradun. Subsequently, two more IFS trainees on 18 March were tested positive, bringing the total tally to 3 from the capital city. FRI has been closed for all kinds of visits until 31 March
In view of the massive outbreak, the state government has taken a number of measures to address the crisis. The government on Wednesday through a notification has asked all their non-essential employees to work from home till 25 march. The government has also issued an advisory to the private companies having offices in the state to offer work from home to their employees. The government has also ordered the closure of all shopping malls, cinema halls and places of potential public gatherings across the state till 31 March with immediate effect. The government has also, as per the Epidemics Act 1897, banned the entry of all the foreign and domestic tourists in Uttarakhand.
In another major development, the Haridwar District Administration has banned the participation of all residents and pilgrims in the evening Ganga Aarti till 31st march, arrangements have been made for the live streaming of the aarti so that devotees can witness the same virtually.
The entry of the outsiders in the forest areas has also been banned and the authorities at Corbett Tiger Reserve have canceled all the bookings (more than 3000 bookings) received from 18 to 31 March. It is estimated that this will result in a loss of Rs. 1 cr to the CTR.
On 18 March the Nainital District Administration has ordered the closure of all the public places where there are chances of mass gatherings including cinema halls, multiplexes, malls, clubs, discotheques, coaching institutes and others. Times of India has reported that workshops are being conducted by the health department for police officers and others regarding tackling the spread of COVID-19.
As per the local media reports, the State Chief Secretary has issued directions to ensure regular distribution and supply of all the essential services (food, fuel, medical services and others). A toll-free helpline number (1077) for reporting any suspect or any other information has been released by the Dehradun District Administration.
In midst of the outbreak, the governor of the state Baby Rani Maurya has also reviewed the situation by the state government and has raised concerns over the circulation of fake information and rumors related to coronavirus. She further stressed the importance of creating awareness about the pandemic.
According to the health bulletin issued on Wednesday, quarantine facilities have been made operational in Dehradun, Haridwar, Nainital, Udham Singh Nagar, Pithoragarh and Champawat districts. The state is gearing to admit any person who needs institutional quarantine.
(Author is working with the Research & Communications team at SDC Foundation. He tweets at @stoic_gautamkr)