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Is U’khand ready to tackle large scale Corona spread?

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By ARUN PRATAP SINGH 

DEHRADUN, 12 May: Yet another Corona positive case was reported today in Uttarakhand. This case is of a 23 year old woman who had returned to Haldwani from Gurugram recently. It is after many days that a fresh case of Corona positive has been reported from district Nainital. It may be recalled that, in the past few days, most of the fresh cases reported in the state are with a travel history from areas or cities that have a high number of COVID-19 cases. Now that large scale transportation of migrants between the states and within the state is being permitted and is going on, the big question remains whether the state is prepared to deal with the large scale potential for spread of the Corona virus!
Speaking at a non-official function through video conferencing, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had expressed apprehension regarding large scale spread with the return of a large number of migrants to Uttarakhand. He had, in fact, gone on to state that with 2 lakh migrants returning to Uttarakhand, there was a possibility of 25,000 of them being affected with COVID-19. He, however, went on to claim that given such a possibility, the state was fully prepared to quarantine up to 5 lakh persons with about 5000 beds for serious cases of infection and over 500 Ventilators for those requiring them.
Although the opposition leaders were amused by this claim, they were quite generous by not making it a very big issue. Should Uttarakhand welcome its 25,000 Corona affected migrant population, does it have adequate facilities to conduct these many tests? Mere thermal screening of those returning is hardly enough or prudent if one really expects a large number of migrants returning with Corona infections. Such a situation, though very hypothetical at present, is bound to result in stage 3 of the pandemic – that is mass communication – and the state would hardly be able to handle such a situation with its rather limited resources.
One thing to be noted however is that with the return of migrants to Uttarakhand, the number of Corona cases is bound to shoot up. All the past few cases reported in the state are related to those with travel history from the highly affected cities. Today’s case has travel history of Gurugram, while an earlier one was from Surat and another from Punjab. The state needs to be prepared to conduct much higher number of tests of migrants returning and not merely screen them and also ensure their mandatory quarantine on their return in order to minimise the possibility of mass spread.