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The panel suggests up to 48-hr acclimatization for pilgrims

Dehradun: In less than a month of the Char Dham yatra, almost 124 pilgrim deaths have been reported in the four shrine towns of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. An expert panel constituted by the government and headed by V-C of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Uttarakhand Medical Education University, Dr. Hem Chandra, has found that "60% of the pilgrims who died had comorbid conditions". 
At least 75 postmortem examinations have been done to reach this conclusion, the study said, adding that only eight patients could reach the nearest health facilities in time. Sharing the details of the findings, Dr. Chandra said, "Out of the total patients who died due to comorbidity, 8-10% were dealing with post-Covid health issues. Besides, in the wake of a high pilgrim count, several people didn't reveal their medical history. These patients were covering long distances in a day while dealing with harsh mountainous conditions. Hence, our panel suggested that an acclimatization period of 24-48 hours must be made mandatory for pilgrims visiting Char Dham shrines, It will be especially helpful for those above the age of 50." He further said that all the four dhams are situated at a height of above 3,000m and the sharp difference in temperature between the plains and mountains without much acclimatization may be contributing to the fatalities. "The temperature even reaches the zero degrees mark at Kedarnath at night. Pilgrims should be urged to halt at some spots before traveling to the shrines and the government should identify such locations", he said. Additional chief secretary Radha Raturi said that the government has "received the expert panel's recommendations and will take necessary steps for it."
Meanwhile, health secretary Radhika Jha urged the pilgrims to get their health check-ups done before starting the yatra. "We have opened nine screening centers, where the health of devotees are being examined - 71,646 pilgrims availed the OPD service, 381 patients were taken to the nearest health facility in an ambulance, over 5,000 were given emergency health services and 30 pilgrims, who fell ill have been brought to AIIMS-Rishikesh through air ambulance.
At least 87 unwell devotees have been asked to return," said Jha, "We have also increased the number of doctors, staff, first medical responders, and first relief posts," the official added. Over 16 lakh pilgrims have visited the four shrines in a little over a month since the yatra began on May 3.

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