Ease Lockdown

The number of Covid cases in Kashmir is showing an upward trend with every passing day. The number of cases has now climbed to more than 350, a predominant number of these cases is from Kashmir Valley and only a small proportion from Jammu. One reason for this is probably that in winter Kashmiris travel more than their counterparts in Jammu. A significant number of people go to Saudi Arabia and Iran for religious pilgrimages. Iran was one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic with more than 80,000 cases, 5000 of whom have so far died.

Kashmiris also visit countries like Dubai and the other Gulf and Arab countries to escape the winter. And in March a large number of them return home. According to the data, 31 percent of the positive cases are travellers and 64 percent are the contacts.

A proper screening at the airport may have been of some help to arrest the spread of the virus. However, considering the number of Covid cases in the Valley is still within manageable levels and discounting the fact that the testing is inadequate, we should be able to get over the crisis sooner than later. In a positive development, percentage of samples that test positive at the two laboratories in Kashmir has dropped drastically over the past five days. According to reports in local media, among 2698 samples that were tested at SKIMS and CD Hospital from 14 April to 18 April, only 65 samples were found positive for coronavirus.

This does auger well for the near future. That is if this leads to the gradual flattening of the curve and later its plateauing and eventual elimination of the infection. But there are many ifs and buts before we reach that stage. It is difficult to say with certainty whether this decline in the positive cases is the result of inadequate testing. In the past week, the sample collection had come to a halt for some time after reportedly 5000 test kits bound for Srinagar were diverted to Jammu. Things, however, would become clear in the days and weeks ahead. If the declining trend sustains, it would mean the lockdown is making a redeeming difference.

That said, what after the lockdown comes to an end. Considering the devastating economic impact of the shutdown of the businesses, the lockdown is unlikely to be extended. There is a need for the government to chalk out a plan whereby parts of the economy which don't entail mass gathering of people are allowed to function. At the same time, people will need to be more responsible about their conduct outside home. The use of face mask and sanitizers should be made mandatory till the time the world gets a grip on the disease.

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