Anantnag Emerging COVID-19 Hotspot

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78 police personnel posted at the Anantnag DPL have tested positive for COVID-19 so far. KO Pic: Abid Bhat

Srinagar- Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir is emerging as a COVID-19 hotspot, with nearly one-third of the cases detected from the District Police Lines (DPL).

As many as 78 police personnel posted at the Anantnag DPL have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, officials said.

The authorities in the district have undertaken a massive drive to trace primary contacts of these policemen, but are facing difficulty given the nature of different tasks assigned to policemen in the union territory.

Anantnag, in south Kashmir, was COVID free till mid-April. The first positive case in the district was recorded on April 15. However, now the district has the highest number of COVID cases in the union territory 247 and has witnessed four deaths so far.

When the first policeman from the DPL tested positive, his contacts were sampled and out of them 18 tested positive. On further contact tracing, 55 more of them tested positive and now we have 78 positive cases in the police 55 from an IRP battalion and 23 from the district police, the officials said.

They said while few policemen from other areas of the valley have tested positive, the sudden surge in number of cases from the DPL and the spread of COVID-19 among policemen was a cause of concern.

It is a cause of concern, more so because several of those personnel who have tested positive were on duty at the mess and even manned the gates of the police lines, the officials said.

The officials, however, said it would not affect the maintenance of law and order as most of the cases pertain to a battalion of the Armed Police.

Most of these cases are from the Armed battalion of the Police which is not linked to anti-militancy operations or law and order duties, so it won’t affect the normal policing, they said.

They said the policemen who have tested positive have been shifted to a COVID facility in the district.

So far more than 250 police personnel have been tested, while an aggressive contact tracing drive has been undertaken, the officials said.

Families and immediate colleagues of the positive policemen are being traced and put in quarantine, he said.

A police official, who did not wish to be named, said while all efforts are being made to trace the contacts of these police personnel, there might always be a possibility of some contacts slipping away.

Police personnel are being used for many duties like anti-militancy front, law and order, enforcing social distancing apart from normal policing. Most of the time, the cops do not remember the number of people they have come in contact with. So, it is not possible to establish all the contacts, he said.

The deputy commissioner and senior superintendent of police concerned were not available for comments as calls to their numbers went unresponsive.

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