May 2021 has seen the terrifying impact of the second wave of the pandemic on Uttarakhand. Of the total 6,452 COVID deaths in the state, 3,828 deaths happened in just last month alone.
The virus has spread deep into its far flung villages causing both disease and death. All photos: By arrangement
Since the beginning of the pandemic last March, the Himayalan state of Uttarakhand has recorded 6,452 deaths due to COVID19. Of these, 3,828 deaths, or 59 per cent of the total deaths in the hill state so far, have happened in the single month of May 2021.
Also, close to half — 45 per cent — of the total COVID positive cases in the state since March 2020 have also been recorded in May 2021. This data was compiled and shared by the Dehradun-based non-profit Social Development for Communities Foundation (SDCF), which has been tracking the COVID19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Clearly, the COVID19 statistics for the month of May 2021 from Uttarakhand, tell a staggering story, a terrifying one, of how the virus has spread deep into its far flung villages causing both disease and death.
Gaon Connection has been reporting on the spread of the coronavirus in the hill state. On May 11, it reported how several villages in Pauri Garhwal, Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts of the state were sealed by the district administration as several villagers were found COVID positive.
Another report by Gaon Connection, published on May 20, showed how a large number of children were affected by the virus in the second wave of the pandemic. Between March 2020 and March 2021, the total number of cumulative cases of COVID19 in children (0-9 years) in a year stood at 2,131 in Uttarakhand. But, just from April 1 to May 19 alone, the state registered 3,313 new cases — a huge surge of 155.46 per cent in a period of 49 days over the past one year.
The Himalayan state reported its first case on March 15, 2020. But it is the second wave that has had a devastating impact, especially in the hill districts that registered nearly 50 per cent of the new cases in the state in the last week of May alone.
The state has 13 districts grouped into the two divisions of Kumaon and Garhwal. Of these, nine are hill districts, made up of villages, that are remote, often inaccessible and located far from the district headquarters. The nine hill districts are Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Champawat, Almora, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar and Rudrarayag.
The data collated by the Social Development for Communities Foundation shows that from March 15 last year till May 31 this year, Uttarakhand has reported 329,494 COVID cases. Of these, 148,973 cases were reported in May 2021 alone. Positivity rate in the hill state last month was 14.72 per cent.
Worryingly, according to the Uttarakhand COVID 2021 vaccination tracker of the non-profit, there has been a significant drop in the number of vaccinations in the state. In the month of April, 1,338,530 doses were administered in the state but the very next month in May, it dropped to 833,149 doses. This despite the fact that the state has begun vaccinating the 18-44 years age group, since May 10.
The worries do not end here. As the state struggles to vaccinate its citizens, 4,500 workers of the National Health Mission in the state have gone on strike demanding grievance redressal over several issues regarding their contractual employment, including increase in their allowances and an extension of maternity leave from three months to six months. This is expected to affect vaccination drive and other health services in the hill state.