A Covid Winter

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J&K has recorded seven more Covid-19 related deaths in last 24 hours, taking the toll due to the virus to 1598. Among them four were residents of Kashmir Valley and three were from Jammu. On the other hand, the total infection tally in the union territory has crossed one lakh. This is a huge number in a place with just thirteen million population. Incidentally Srinagar and Jammu, are the first and second highest infected districts. On a positive note, there are now over 5,688 active cases in the UT, while 95,342 patients have recovered so far, But the challenge of reigning in the epidemic still remains. More so, with the winter setting in and the cases of infections expected to go up in the cold. The winter also witnesses the outbreak of flu which will be a source of panic for the people.

At the same time, the situation on the ground is one of growing indifference towards the contagion. The initial caution and care that people took to avoid contracting the disease is no longer the case. Nor is the government as serious in implementing the Standard Operating Procedures as it did earlier. The people are going about their business as a matter of course. And which is good if only they took the necessary precautionary measures. But they are not doing that nor is the government enforcing it.

Though there has been some talk of the re-enforcing the lockdown but that should be the last thing on government’s mind as the Valley’s economy can hardly afford it. Kashmir has been in a state of siege for the past fifteen months. To make matters worse, the administration in Kashmir was a bit more exuberant about enforcing lockdown. It was much more strict with it than was warranted. Its rationale was that the lockdown is critical to bring down the number of infections and flatten the curve. And its reasoning appeared plausible under the circumstances. But as the example around the world would have one believe, lockdown has only reduced the infections not controlled them. And there is little chance that an extended lockdown will eliminate the infection. But in the process, the Valley’s economy has been wrecked. Lakhs have lost jobs. It stopped the circulation of money and hit the marginalized sections very hard. The fallout of the lockdown has thus been far worse than that of the Covid-19 and on a much bigger scale.

What government can do is to strictly enforce the SOPs in public rather than shut the economy up. As the past eight have proved that is the only plausible way to go about this.

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