Constant vigilance Prajapati inspects a market in Dharamshala. Photo: Sandeep Sahdev
Kangra got into war mode against COVID-19 as soon as the first case was detected on March 20, sealing the borders and suspending trains and flights. Section 144 had already been imposed on March 16 and religious institutions were shut down. Rigorous contact-tracing began and drones are being used for surveillance during the lockdown. “The pre-emptive steps taken by the district administration has had a remarkable impact,” says Deepak Saini, a resident of Palampur.
An awareness campaign started with the help of ASHA and anganwadi workers and patwaris and panchayat members. At least 1,000 private numbers/ WhatsApp contacts of officials were shared with the public. District magistrate R.K. Prajapati has remained accessible on the phone 24×7, communicating directly with the callers. Shops have been designated for home-delivery of essentials; the district administration has also ensured 10,000 home-deliveries of medicines to patients. Social security pensions have been distributed to over 100,000 people at their homes through post-offices.
Uncertainty, though, prevails over the return of locals stranded in places of employment outside Kangra. Prajapati has not allowed inter-district travel and has set up buffer quarantine centres in the border areas. Post-lockdown, he plans to keep the inter-state movement under check and conduct rapid antibody tests at the borders.