Review Relaxation of Curbs: Uttarakhand HC to Govt Amid Tourist Influx
The court observed that around 25,000 tourists who had visited Nainital city were found to be violating COVID norms.
As scores of tourists make their way to hill stations after the ebbing of the second wave of COVID-19, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday, 7 July, instructed the state government to control tourist inflow and reassess its decision to relax COVID-19 restrictions.
While hearing a bunch of petitions related to COVID management in the state, a bench of Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma raised concerns about the influx of tourists over the previous two weekends.
Concerned that the tourists may lead to the spread of the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 in the state, the court observed that as many as 25,000 tourists who had visited Nainital city were found to be violating COVID-19 norms, Bar & Bench reported.
Appearing for one of the petitioners, Advocate Vinay Bhatt, submitted that tourists were entering the state without conducting RT-PCR tests.
Meanwhile, counsels of other petitioners flagged matters like the state’s inadequate healthcare infrastructure and difficulties in vaccinating the elderly and physically challenged.
Uttarakhand Chief Secretary SS Sandhu was asked by the bench to keep the court informed of whether the state government has taken any decision to tighten the lockdown during weekends, Hindustan Times reported.
The court directed the state government to take steps to control the inflow of tourists.
Moreover, the secretary of the health department was asked to inform the court about the COVID-19 samples sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Responding to challenges faced in vaccinating the elderly and physically challenged, the court said, “In case, 'near to home clinics' can be established, the possibility for the same should be explored by the state Government," The Indian Express reported.
The government was further directed to inform the court about the number of MRI machines available in government hospitals, whether all community health centres have doctors appointed, a complete list of CHCs without doctors, availability of paediatric beds, ventilators, and wards in the government hospitals, and status of vaccination.
Frightening Visuals of Crowding: Centre
The Centre on Tuesday had warned that crowding in hill stations without observing COVID-appropriate behaviour can make the management efforts of the health crisis ineffective.
An official described the visuals of large numbers of people crowding hill stations as “frightening”.
Meanwhile, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry, warned that restrictions may be imposed again if people continue to flout COVID guidelines.
Though the Uttarakhand government on Monday extended the COVID-19 curfew in the state till 13 July, certain relaxations like opening of malls at 50 percent capacity were allowed.
Meanwhile, the state reported 77 new COVID cases with a positivity rate of 5.98 percent on Wednesday.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Chief Dr Randeep Guleria has predicted that the third wave of COVID-19 is “inevitable” in India and may hit the country in the coming weeks.
'We Don’t Seem to Have Learnt': AIIMS Chief Dr Guleria
Speaking to NDTV, AIIMS Chief Dr Randeep Guleria said, “We don’t seem to have learnt from what happened between the first and the second wave. Again crowds are building up... people are gathering."
The coronavirus, which spreads through human proximity, has been noted to cause the most infections when people gather in large numbers – with the recent debacle at the Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand serving as a cautionary example.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times, NDTV, Indian Express and Bar & Bench)
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