Javid Amin, Journalist based in Kashmir (J&K). Printer, Publisher, Editor of "Weekly Shohrat - Kashmir" (Print Edition) as well owner of online news portals www.KashmirPost.org / www.KashmirInFocus.com. Aimed at putting Kashmir and its issues on the global platform. An extensively traveled person enjoys writing.

Call for re-imposition of lockdown gains support from several quarters

Jammu and Kashmir recorded at least nine deaths caused by COVID-19 on Saturday. A 24-year-old woman from Hakura, Anantnag, who recently delivered a baby, was among them.

“Spike in symptomatic COVID-19 positive cases, with an increasing number of moderate to severe cases, is an indication of Kashmir moving towards a catastrophic phase of no return, with a considerable quantum of severe morbidity,” Dr. Salim Khan, Nodal Officer for COVID-19, and Head of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Government Medical College, Srinagar, said.

Officials said four special wards set up at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, Srinagar, had become full within days. “Our COVID-19 hospitals’ capacity is getting overwhelmed. The health set-up is going to get compromised due to the limited resources in the government sector to cater to severe cases, with no back-up from the fragile private sector,” Dr. Khan said.

According to the numbers recorded at the Chest Disease (CD) Hospital, the main government-run COVID-19 facility, out of 90 COVID-19 patients admitted, 65 were dependent on high flow oxygen, 10 were in the Intensive Care Unit, and two were on ventilators. At the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, out of 90 admitted patients, the condition of five patients is “severe”.

“The CD Hospital has over 75% cases with moderate and severe conditions, with 5-10% of them in a critical condition. There is an urgent need for strict re-enforcement of lockdown to salvage the situation,” Dr. Khan said.

Srinagar, with around 1,600 COVID-19 cases and 40 deaths, tops the list of districts affected by infections in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by Baramulla with around 1,200 cases. The recovery rate has fallen from 63% a week ago to around 58%, official figures suggest.

J&K has recorded over 9,000 COVID-19 positive cases so far in a population of just 1.3 crore. With 170 deaths reported already, the mortality rate could be higher than many States in the country.

Meanwhile, the district administrations of Rajouri, Kupwara and Baramulla have decided to re-impose lockdown measures again in the wake of the spike in cases.

“The demand for re-imposition of lockdown is coming from various sections of society, including doctors, paramedics, some traders and other sections. The final call will be taken by the competent authority soon. So far, the government has not taken any decision over the issue,” Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, P. K. Pole was quoted by a local news agency.

Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Adviser to the Lieutenant Governor, on Saturday called for “aggressive testing of co-morbid persons and strict enforcement of restrictions in containment zones to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in J&K”.