Overcrowding in hill stations: Any kind of superspreader event must be avoided, says ICMR Advisor Dr Suneela Garg

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Tourists’ now entering Mussoorie and Nainital have to carry a negative COVID test report not older than 72 hours. In fact, several thousand vehicles, on their way to Mussoorie, were sent back by the Uttarakhand police over the weekend.

Daily coronavirus case count has dropped below 40,000 for the first time in 5 days, but the test positivity rate inched marginally higher. Kerala is reporting the most infections with more than 12,200 cases in 24 hours. It is the only state to record more than 10,000 cases in a day.
According to the health ministry, Kerala has 14 districts of concern as of July 9 -- a district of concern is one with test positivity rate of over 10 percent. Maharashtra is home to 15 districts of concern. Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Odisha have over 10 districts with positivity rate in double digits. North-eastern states are also seeing a rise in infections with 4 states reporting test positivity rate of over 10 percent. Sikkim has a positivity rate of 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the overall death toll has once again fallen below 800 with 724 deaths in 24 hours. The decline comes after the country saw over 1,200 deaths on Saturday. Maharashtra and Kerala see the highest deaths followed by Tamil Nadu and some north-eastern states.
India has administered nearly 29 lakh vaccine doses as of 4 pm today. But, the pace of vaccination has been dropping steadily in the past 3 weeks. The 7-day average vaccination rate stood at 33 lakh on the June 21 when India entered a new phase in the inoculation drive. This was when the central government started procuring and distributing vaccines to states. The first week starting June 21 saw the 7-day average hit 60 lakh. But, since then it has declined and as of yesterday, we are back to the 33 lakh level seen before June 21.
Many cities are again running out of vaccines -- Delhi had said it has only a day's stock available. Maharashtra too had suspended vaccine drive at some centres due to shortage of doses.
Pictures of massive crowds and traffic jams continue to emerge on social media from popular hill stations in Uttarakhand and Himachal. Centre has, in fact, sounded a warning to states saying that the second COVID wave is not over and states should ensure strict adherence of COVID-appropriate behaviour. Tourists’ now entering Mussoorie and Nainital have to carry a negative COVID test report not older than 72 hours. In fact, several thousand vehicles, on their way to Mussoorie, were sent back by the Uttarakhand police over the weekend. While thousands of tourists were similarly sent back from Nainital as well, Sunday saw over 10,000 tourists arriving at the hill station.
To discuss the way forward, CNBC-TV18 spoke with Uttarakhand Director General of Police Ashok Kumar; Anup Thakur, President, Manali Hoteliers Association; and Doctor AK Singh, Chairman, The Max Institute of Neurosciences and Medical Advisor, Max Hospital Dehradun; and Doctor Suneela Garg, Advisor, The Indian Council Of Medical Research. Dr Garg is also on the Lancet Commission on COVID-19.
For the entire discussion, watch the accompanying video