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Atal tunnel closed for tourists as Covid hits villages


CHANDIGARH: The Covid-19 has spread to remote high-altitude areas of Himachal Pradesh. Out of the 41 panchayats with 14,000 people in Lahaul and Spiti sharing border with China, seven have reported a surge in cases.The district administration has restricted tourists around 5km from the north portal of Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass.

The state government on Monday decided to impose night curfew in four districts of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi and Kangra from 8 pm to 6 am. Around 2,000 cases have been reported in the last fortnight in Shimla and Mandi. Education institutions in the hill state will remain closed till December 31.

The government will also conduct an intensive statewide survey from November 25 to December 27 to identify Covid cases. Lahaul & Spiti Deputy Commissioner Pankaj Rai said some 950 cases have been reported in the district, of which, 500 people have recovered.

“Around 6,000 samples have been taken following aggressive sampling in the last few days,” he said. Nodal officers have been appointed in each panchayat to educate and sensitise the villagers.

“To contain the spread, orders have been issued banning the outsiders’ entry. The ban will be in place till further orders,” he said. People have been advised that if any local returning home from outside the district shows symptoms of the virus, he must isolate himself from the family.

Recently, at Tholang village in Lahaul sub-division, 41 of the 42 residents who participated in a function to honour a local deity were infected. The total population of the village is 169, but the authorities said the rest of the people might have migrated temporarily.

The state government has decided that all social, political, cultural and sports gatherings in open areas would be restricted to 200 persons with social distancing. A fine of `1,000 will be imposed on those not wearing face masks in public places.