The spread of contagion of novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) among the trainees of the prestigious Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie has not only sent alarm bells ringing in the state administration but it has also spread panic among those associated with the tourism industry particularly trekking sector. It is learnt that these officer trainees of the 95th foundation course were part of the trekking excursions which were held in different high altitude locations in pristine Garhwal hills. On Friday 33 trainees were found positive for the disease while 24 more were detected positive on Saturday.
As the information about the contagion of Covid-19 in the academy spread , the tour operators and those associated with trekking became anxious as these trainees had recently come into contact with the guides, porters, locals and others associated with the business in different locations of the state. “Yes we are worried and many of us are contemplating cancelling our bookings. The administration should ensure that every one who came into contact with the infected trainees should be traced and tested,’’ said one trekking operator. The experts point out that the tourism industry of the state which was coming out of the crisis precipitated by the pandemic could again get affected by the development. It is pertinent to mention that rafting activities in Ganga got affected when about three dozen rafting guides were found positive for the disease. The trekking business provides direct and indirect employment to a large number of people in the mountainous areas of the state.
When contacted by The Pioneer, the director of LBSNAA, Dr Sanjeev Chopra accepted that the trainees had gone on a trekking expedition. He however added that there is no need for panic and all protocols of the government of India for Covid-19 are being followed in the academy. Chopra said that the infected trainees have been shifted to the Covid Care Centre (CCC) established in the academy.
Trekking is part of the curriculum of the officer trainees of the LBSNAA. The trainees are divided into different groups of 25-26 each and sent to different locations for seven to eight days. The services of tour operators are taken in this activity who provide manpower like guides and porters to each group of trainees of the academy. The trekking routes of LBSNAA trainees traverse through areas like Chaainsheel Bugyal, Sarutal, Jhandi top, Har Ki Doon, Drongiri, Kedarkantha, valley of flowers and other locations in Himalayas.
Following detection of Covid-19 in 57 trainees of LBSNAA, the administration has converted five hostels of the academy into containment zones. The academy has been sealed for 48 hours and the process of sanitization in the academy has started. The academy has decided to start online studies of the trainees. There are 428 officer trainees belonging to 95th foundation course that started in October in the campus of the LBSNAA.