Senior IAS Officer Tests Positive For Covid-19 In J&K

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Top Officials Go Into Self-Quarantine

Srinagar- A senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer has tested positive for COVID-19 in Jammu and Kashmir following which several bureaucrats and doctors, who attended a meeting with him on Saturday, have gone into self-quarantine, officials said.

The officer, who is posted as the principal secretary to the government, was tested for coronavirus infection at Jammu airport on his return from Srinagar and his report came positive on Saturday night, the officials said.

He became the first IAS officer to test positive for COVID-19 in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

Last week, the wife and son of an advisor to the Lt Governor tested positive for the disease after they came back from Delhi.

The advisor subsequently went into administrative quarantine though his test came negative.

The IAS officer, who is also assisting the health and medical education department in COVID-19 management in addition to his own duties, had attended a high-level meeting after his return from Srinagar on Saturday, the officials said.

They said several top bureaucrats and doctors attended the meeting, prompting them to go into self-quarantine. They will undergo tests later in the day.

Jammu and Kashmir has recorded a total of 2,341 coronavirus positive cases including 1,853 in the valley and 488 in Jammu region till Saturday evening.

While 28 patients — 25 in Kashmir and three in Jammu died of the infection, 908 others have been cured and subsequently discharged from the hospital.

BJP questions ‘non-adherence’ to anti-corona cautions

The BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit on Sunday questioned the alleged non-adherence of anti-COVID precautions by a senior IAS officer after he tested positive for the disease and demanded cancellation of the annual ‘Durbar move’ this year amid the pandemic.

BJP spokesperson Brig (Retd) Anil Gupta said the news of a senior IAS officer testing positive for coronavirus infection on return from Srinagar is not only demoralising for others but also raises doubts on the adherence of adminstration’s SOPs and anti-corona guidelines by senior officers.

While the administration is sparing no effort to effectively manage the deadly pandemic in the Union Territory, there is growing concern among the public about certain arbitrary decisions taken by officials and non-adherence to guidelines by them, Gupta said in a statement here.

In the instant case of the senior IAS officer testing positive for the infection, he said, the restriction regarding intrastate travel to designated red zones, the protocol of administrative quarantine on arrival till the result of blood sample is known and avoiding physical meetings have been clearly violated.

What was the compelling reason for the official to travel to Srinagar? Why did he not remain in administrative quarantine on arrival from Srinagar till his blood sample report was received and, last but not the least, why did he physically attend a meeting which he could have joined virtually, if inescapable?” asked Gupta.

Now that he has tested positive, many other senior bureaucrats, officers and health officials have been forced into a quarantine, upsetting the entire administrative and health workers machinery which is actively involved in managing the daily rising numbers of corona positive patients, the BJP leader said.

Referring to the April 17 government order, instructing administrative secretaries to put in place a robust online or electronic video conferencing system at Jammu and Srinagar to ensure virtual offices, Gupta said it was clear that the government is violating its own directives by holding physical meetings.

The administration must insist on holding only video conferences unless physical attendance cannot be avoided, he said.

In view of the lockdown being extended up to June 30 in containment zones and increasing number of corona cases in Kashmir, the government needs to quell all fears among employees, who form part of ‘Durbar Move’ by announcing abandonment of the move for this year.

There appear to be very slim chances of reversing the trend in Kashmir in the near future. The situation has only worsened and there has been no change in the extraordinary circumstances caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In view of the same, the uncertainty that prevails due to the earlier announcement that ‘formal opening of Durbar at Srinagar will take place on June 15’ needs to be removed by the government by announcing cancellation of Durbar move this year, he said.

 

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