Amid Covid-19 patients running from pillar to post to find hospital beds in Himachal Pradesh, virus victims and their families have another issue to worry about— cyber thugs.
The Himachal Pradesh Police on Monday issued a warning asking people to beware of fake covid resource websites and WhatsApp forwards offering hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and key drugs needed for Covid-19 treatment.
The development comes in the backdrop of the state witnessing a massive shortage of oxygen cylinders, pulse oximeters and medicines.
With a positivity rate of 26.3 per cent, the infections in the state are spiralling out of control especially in districts such as Una, Solan, Sirmaur and Kangra.
Amid lack of hospital beds, many Covid-19 patients in the state are seeking treatment in Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab.
In the backdrop of these developments many fraudulent websites have been created targeting helpless patients by making false promises of providing them with key medical resources.
Additional police superintendent (Cybercrime) Shimla Narvir Singh Rathore on Monday said that though no specific case of fraud has so far been registered in the state, many cybergangs have attempted to exploit Covid-19 patients.
Members of these gangs pose as hospital staff and their modus operandi includes asking people to make advance payments for booking hospital beds or receiving other medical resources, Rathore said.
These gangs are also conning people by promising to issue e-passes to travel during the lockdown, he added.
“If caught red-handed, the government will book these gangs under the Disaster Management Act,” said director general of police Sanjay Kundu.
Kundu further said that cybercrime has increased since the onset of the second wave of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur on Monday inspected the Indira Gandhi Medical College And Hospital located in Shimla, where 300 Covid-19 patients are receiving treatment. He also inspected the facility’s new OPD block, which has capacity to accommodate about 500 coronavirus patients.
“We are currently working on increasing beds at all Covid facilities across the state. We will also convert three complexes of Radha Soami Satsang at Kangra, Mandi and Solan into Covid care centres,” Thakur said.
With new deaths, Himachal on Monday, reported its highest Covid death toll. Of them 18 were reported in Kangra district and 12 in Shimla.
The state also logged 4,360 new infections during the last 24 hours.