The COVID-19 death toll in the Union Territory of Ladakh reached 100 as two more people died due to the infection in Leh district, thereby prompting the civil society to call for a self-imposed week-long shutdown here from Monday to contain the spread of the virus.
A total of 73 people tested positive for coronavirus during the past 24 hours, taking the virus count in the region to 7,939, officials said on Monday.
Meanwhile, the authorities assured adequate arrangements to meet the challenge posed by the spike in the cases and announced that Ladakh is expected to receive COVID-19 vaccine by February next year.
Both the latest fatalities were reported from Leh on Sunday, taking the death toll in Ladakh to 100, the officials said, adding of them, 59 deaths have taken place in Leh and rest 41 in Kargil district.
Out of the 73 new cases, the officials said 69 cases were detected in Leh and four in Kargil.
The officials said 55 patients were discharged after successful treatment for COVID-19, raising the number of those who have recovered from the infection to 6,911, which is 87 per cent of the total cases.
The active cases in the Union territory stand at 928, that is, 820 in Leh and 108 in Kargil, they said.
Normal life was disrupted in Leh town on Monday following a call for week-long lockdown given by the civil society group to prevent the spread of the infection.
All shops and business establishments, except medical shops, remained closed, while most of the public and private transport remained off the roads in response to the lockdown call.
Allaying fears of the public, Commissioner Secretary, Health and Medical Education, Ladakh Rigzin Samphel said all necessary arrangements have been put in place to deal with the pandemic in the coming winter months.
"Ladakh is expected to receive COVID-19 vaccines by the month of February next year for which 17 points in Kargil and 15 points in Leh have already been recognised for their storage.
"On receiving the vaccines, the medical fraternity and senior citizens would be given preference for receiving the vaccination," he told reporters.
About the civil society sponsored lockdown in Leh district, Samphel appreciated the overall cooperation and assistance of the civil society of Ladakh and termed it as an example for others to follow. He also appealed to the general public to follow and adhere to the SOPs issued by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The official said all arrangements have been made by the administration to keep the COVID centres winter-ready and functional in the coming months.
"The district administrations of Leh and Kargil have made seven COVID care centres fully functional with adequate facilities in Kargil and five in Leh district. The administration has made a 200 bed facility in Kargil hospital and in the coming days, the ICU unit in SNM hospital in Leh will see an increased facility of 120 beds," he said.
Samphel said arrangements with regards to heating and oxygen facilities along with complete stocking of medicines have already been made across the region.
"Hospitals of Leh and Kargil are fully equipped with sufficient oxygen facilities. Also, an addition of 100 nurses each in Leh and Kargil hospitals will be made available," the officer said.
In addition to current single-engine Heli service, the Commissioner Secretary said the administration would also use the service of Mi17 choppers for aerial support to far flung areas like Zanskar, Nubra, Changthang and Drass.
He also urged the general public to help contain the spread of the virus, especially during the annual celebration of Losar, by observing the occasion at their homes and avoiding visiting relatives this festive season.