With three more Covid-19 patients dying on Monday, the number of fatalities due to the disease in J&K has risen to 63. One of the deceased was a teenager from Handwara, who had otherwise died of injuries. His test later on turned out to be Covid-19 positive. On the other hand, the number of positive cases is witnessing a steep rise over the past week taking the toll upwards of 5000. There’s no indication that the curve will flatten anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Government has reluctantly decided to open up in line with the rest of the country. And which is good. Kashmir economy has been under a lockdown for far too long to sustain its indefinite extension. As the over two month long lockdown has made it clear, it hasn’t proved an antidote to the spread of Coronavirus in the country.
True, it may have held the numbers in check, but the cost in terms of the crippling of our economy has been massive. More so, when the Covid lockdown has been a double whammy for us. It has been imposed after the six month long security lockdown that followed the revocation of Article 370 in August last year. The traders bodies in Kashmir have pegged the loss to economy at over Rs 30,000 crore. In practical terms this loss means thousands of people losing their jobs, some sectors like tourism going out of business and start-ups being wiped out.
But far from being sensitive to this reality, the administration put in place one of the most restrictive lockdowns in the Valley. In hindsight, it seems to have been an excessive and unnecessary response to the crisis. More so, when the Valley is a far smaller place than, say, the metropolises like Mumbai and New Delhi with their large and dense population. A far better way to manage the crisis would have been to strictly enforce the social distancing while the economy was largely allowed to function. A blend of legal action against the violators of the social distancing norms and an aggressive awareness campaign designed to make people responsible for their own health could have done wonders while taking care of the economy.
More than a full-fledged lockdown, fighting Covid-19 needed an all out encouragement to a people-led effort to arrest its spread. But, on the contrary, hammer was brought down on the economy. And more than two months on, here we are: the economy is on death bed while on the Covid-19 front, the community transmission seems to have already set in.
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