Life and livelihood

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Kashmir has been witnessing a steady rise in the cases of Coronavirus over the past week. The number has crossed past 2800. With the daily growth of new cases going upwards of hundred, the number is set to rise further. As it is, the number looks unlikely to flatten anytime soon. Surprisingly the new cases include a senior IAS officer. Following this, officers from the top rungs of the bureaucracy and civil administration, including some from the core teams of the J&K administration’s Coronavirus response force, were quarantined immediately. Incidentally this officer is alleged to have been in a recent meeting with the chief secretary and other senior officers at the Civil Secretariat in Jammu. What is more, a frontline doctor Dr Navid Nazir Shah, the head of the Chest Diseases hospital has also tested positive. The contagion is thus affecting even the people who should otherwise be taking most precautions.
This sudden surge in the numbers has raised the fear of the community transmission in the region.

However, a large number of the new cases are travellers, something that should be a source of some satisfaction. In recent past, the J&K administration has evacuated about 102,972 residents of the Union Territory, who were stranded in other parts of the country due to Covid lockdown. They were brought back through special trains and buses in accordance with guidelines and standard operating procedures.

Going forward the situation doesn’t give confidence. At this current rate, the number of cases are going to be far too many in near future to be handled by our existing health infrastructure. More so, when the healthcare professionals are also now indicating that the community transmission might have already set in. The situation can only aggravate as the government takes steps to open up the economy. And which is also important. It is not possible for people to remain in a perpetual state of lockdown. This has already wrought havoc with the economy. More so, in Kashmir which has already been under lockdown for the past ten months. This has led to a loss of employment for thousands of people. The vital sectors of our economy like tourism, horticulture, handicrafts have been hit hard. So, perpetuating the lockdown is not an option. What the administration can do and which is eminently possible is to create more awareness about social distancing norms and take action against the people and the businessmen who violate it. It is time people are made responsible for their own health. This way, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, both life and livelihood can be saved.

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