By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 12 Apr: Today was the fourth consecutive day when no new Corona positive case was reported in Uttarakhand. The total number of positive cases remains 35 as of now, while the number of those who have recovered from the Corona (COVID-19) infection in the state has gone up to 7. Among those who have made successful recoveries from the infection is a US citizen, too. What is even more heartening is the fact that not a single death has been reported related to Corona infection in the state.
The number of active cases of Corona in the state is currently 28 and can be traced to the Tablighi Jamaat. Even most of the persons or family members of Jamaatis coming in contact with them are testing negative in the state. All the colonies in Dehradun, Haridwar, Roorkee, Nainital, Haldwani, etc., where Tablighi Jamaatis have been quarantined are now in a state of complete lockdown with no one allowed to go inside or come out of the colonies. In Dehradun, the colonies in total lockdown include Bhagat Singh Colony, Kargi Grant and Muslim Colony of Lakhibagh.
Unfortunately, on Sunday, there were reports from Vanbhoolpura in Haldwani, which is a locked down colony, of people coming out of their residence and resisting attempts by the police to prevent this. Such incidents need to be dealt with strictly.
There is hardly any doubt that the timely decision of lockdown and sincere efforts on the part of the government, state and the district administrations and the Police have helped to contain spread of Corona infection in the state. There is no case of community transmission and all of the infected persons caught the infection outside of the state. So, can we assume that Uttarakhand is on its way to becoming one of the first states to become Corona free? Despite this, the state is likely to see another round of lockdown till 30 April with educational institutes likely to remain closed till 15 May.
However, some pertinent questions do remain that need some convincing answers. Fact number one is that a large number of Uttarakhand natives have returned to the state from across the country as well as abroad and gone to their native villages and towns including the hills and they have not undertaken any testing. Hence the possibility of some of them carrying the infection can’t be discounted. However, if a lockdown is strictly implemented till these people complete their cycle of quarantine of 14 to 21 days, the possibility of their spreading any infection at the local level will fade. Hence, the lockdown needs to be implemented strictly at least till 30 April. Secondly, there could be more Jamaatis and other persons with suspicious travel history who have still not been located and identified. They could still be potential carriers of the virus. Again the solution lies in strict compliance of the lockdown to minimise the local transmission.
About 330 test reports are still awaited and, on Sunday, only 93 reports were received. Another interesting question is whether we in Uttarakhand have conducted enough tests to determine the actual extent of transmission? So far, in Uttarakhand, the total number of samples tested is only 1820. On Sunday, only 108 persons were tested and, of them, 48 persons were tested in Dehradun, 51 in Haridwar and 8 in Nainital. The total number of persons tested in Dehradun so far is only 674, in Haridwar 394 and in Nainital, 299. Obviously we are not testing enough persons. There are reports that many of the infected persons may remain asymptomatic and therefore may not get tested at all even as they could still transmit the disease as carriers. So, the testing needs to be conducted on a much wider scale and the results should be declared at the earliest.