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'Most of those who died or faced health emergencies had some history of Covid'

Dehradun: Health staff was told to "counsel medically-unfit people to avoid the pilgrimage," Bhatt said, "Health facilities are appropriate a the yatra routes and unfit pilgrims are constantly being asked to avoid the yatra. Staff will intensively record the Covid history of those who died," she said.
"Most of the time, the kin of those who died misunderstood the query and assumed that they were being asked if the person was Covid-positive at the time of their death. Now, on-duty staff has been asked to specifically inquire if the person ever contracted Covid in the past. We also need to check the presence of other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, which aggravate Covid-related morbidities," another senior doctor added.
Those closely observing the exponential rise in the number of pilgrim deaths said that the development "must not be attributed" to high footfall." They said that collecting metadata will "scientifically establish the actual reasons behind the deaths."
Till May 30, 112 pilgrims died while undertaking the Char Dham yatra, with maximum fatalities being recorded in Kedarnath (51), followed by Yamunotri (29), Badrinath (25), and Gangotri (7). The figure has already crossed the death toll recorded during the entire yatra last year.
Dr Pradeep Bhardwaj, CEO and medical director of Six Sigma  Star Healthcare, an organisation that specialises in high-altitude medical facilities and which has been deployed by the state government at Kedarnath since 2013 to look after pilgrims' health, said that health check-up parameters "must be alike for everyone to reduce mortalities". "A large proportion of those who died and those who reported health emergencies had some history of Covid-19, either directly or indirectly," he said.
He told  "There should be a set format on the lines of the Amarnath yatra or the Kailash Mansarovar yatra, where pilgrims are mandated to fill out health forms and upon being rejected, are not allowed to undertake the yatra, which pilgrims can embark upon after giving an undertaking."

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