Srinagar has been put under a temporary lockdown after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed on Wednesday. The patient hails from Khaniyar in downtown city. According to authorities, the person has a history of international travel and had arrived in the Valley on March 16. This has forced the administration to take stringent preventive measures to halt the spread of the disease. The barricades and concertina wires have been erected at many places in downtown Srinagar and on the roads that lead towards the old city. There are also reports of curbs having been imposed in several areas of central Kashmir’s Budgam district. Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary has also urged people to avoid public gatherings, assembly and movement in many areas. He has also urged all residents who might have come in contact with the COVID-19 positive case in Srinagar to report to their nearest health facilities or contact control room numbers.
These are welcome measures as considering the state of our healthcare, all we can do is contain the spread of virus. And God forbid, if we fail here our healthcare system won’t be in a position to handle a bigger number of COVID-19 positive patients. So, a temporary lockdown is the only available option to fight the disease. That said, government has to keep a watchful eye on the people entering the Valley. More so, the Kashmiris returning from foreign countries. For example, the COVID-19 positive patient from Khaniyar had returned from Umrah in Saudi Arabia and she was able to get past the screening at Delhi and Srinagar airport. This is why it is important that all the visitors to Kashmir are quarantined. Government has rightly issued an appeal to foreigners, travelers and visitors to not visit J&K and Ladakh.
And while we bar foreigners and even people outside J&K from visiting, we need to also internally get our act right. And while the government is required to do everything necessary to address the crisis, the people should also cooperate. As directed by the administration the people should avoid unnecessary travel, use of public transport, crowded places, and also ensure personal hygiene by washing hands with soap. These are extraordinary times and such times call for extraordinary measures. It is true the COVID-19 pandemic has come at a time when Kashmir was emerging from a seven month long lockdown. Businesses have already suffered gigantic losses. But the seriousness of the crisis has left us with no option but to shutdown our businesses again until the world gets a grip on this runaway contagion. We can only hope it happens sooner.