New Delhi: Marooned in a thick blanket of snow, the world’s highest post office Hikkam which is located in Himachal Pradesh’s Spiti Valley is the latest area to be hit by the deadly coronavirus disease, said officials on Tuesday. For the first time after months of the pandemic has passed, a team of doctors has reached the Hikkam village which has a population of around 200 people, and collected samples on Monday. Also Read - Bolsonaro Likens COVID-19 Vaccine to 'Sanjeevani Booti', Thanks PM Modi After Consignment of Covishield Arrives in Brazil

The village is at the height of 15,000 feet above sea level and its night temperature currently hovers around 20 degrees Celsius below freezing. The nearby villages Komik and Langche have also been hit by the pandemic. They support a population of 87 and 136, respectively. Also Read - Face Mask No More Mandatory While Travelling With Family in Private Vehicles in Pune

“A total of 80 swab samples were collected in three villages and out of them four tested positive,” a health official said over phone from Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti and some 320 km from the state capital Shimla. Also Read - 'Not 1, But 2 Made in India Vaccines': Modi in Interaction With Covid Vaccinators in Varanasi | Top Points

Kaza was the first in the state to sanitise the entire block to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

The picturesque Spiti Valley, a cold desert dotted by tiny hamlet spread over the Himalayan peaks, adjoining Tibet, takes you to a land of Buddhism and virgin nature.

As per the state health bulletin, a total of 4,646 coronavirus samples were taken in the valley till date and out of them 473 tested positive. The active cases are 25. Two deaths have been reported.

Authorities blame the locals, who are largely the Buddhist farmers growing barley, potatoes, wheat and black peas, for the virus spread as they are reluctant to go to hospitals owing to a belief they will get treated automatically with the blessing of a local deity.

“Special teams of the health and the police have been visiting village to village to educate the locals about how to contain the virus and also collecting the samples,” said Additional District Magistrate of Kaza, Gyan Sagar Negi.

The freezing temperatures and continuous snowfall have been forcing the locals to stay indoors most of the time, he added.

(With IANS inputs)