Ease the Lockdown

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The number of Covid-19 positive cases in Kashmir has gone past 1300 with 15 deaths, three of them over the past twenty hours. However, on a positive note, 609 patients have so far recovered. J&K stands at number 13 in terms of number of cases among all states and union territories in India. This does make it one among the significantly infected states. However, the number of cases has shown a marked rise in only over the past few days. Among them are five doctors, three from ENT department of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital, an orthopaedic surgeon from SKIMS Bemina and a dentist of Government Dental College.

Across the country too, the cases have witnessed a considerable spike in recent days with numbers going past 5000 patients a day. This has taken the total cases to one lakh. A large number of these cases have recovered. At the same time, number of deaths remains low at over 3000. India’s death rate remains below that of many western nations which have been hit the hardest. Its mortality rate for those with the disease is 3 percent, compared with 6 percent for the United States where around 89,000 people have died, 14 percent for the United Kingdom and Italy and 15 percent for France.

Maharashtra in the worst affected state by the pandemic, accounting for about one-third of the country’s total cases followed by Gujarat. This has forced the government to extend the lockdown by another 15 days, albeit with considerable relaxations. For example, inter-state movement of vehicles, buses have been allowed with states and Union Territories being given the final power to delineate Red, Orange and Green zones. Also, local authorities have to ensure that shops and markets open with staggered timings, so as to ensure social distancing. The shops have to ensure six feet distance among customers and also not allow more than 5 persons at one time.

This is a welcome change. As it is, the country can’t afford to be in a perpetual shutdown. This will cripple the economy rendering lakhs of people unemployed. In fact, two months of lockdown has already done so and further extensions will only further kill the businesses.

In Kashmir, the administration has been more strict with the lockdown than is warranted. And it’s hitting the economy hard, already reeling from the lockdown since August 2019. It is time the government revisits the restrictions and eases them considerably to let the people return to businesses. What it can focus on instead is to strictly enforce the social distancing norms in public.

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