Vaccine Not Lockdown

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AS the coronavirus cases surge in Kashmir and across the country, there’s again talk of fresh lockdown, albeit, the government both at the centre and in J&K are not in a hurry to impose one. This is because, the lockdowns have proved disastrous in their fallout on the economy. India’s economy last year plunged by one-fourth. As the example around the world would have us believe, lockdown has only reduced the infections not controlled them. In J&K, the lockdown also crushed the economy, leaving thousands of people unemployed. It stopped the circulation of money and hit the marginalized sections very hard. In fact, the fallout of the lockdown has been far worse than that of the pandemic and on a much bigger scale. What was billed as a cure has turned out to be worse than the disease.

As things stand, we have moved past the stage where recourse to a lockdown is even an option. What the government can focus on instead is to strictly enforce the social distancing norms in public. And it can do so, considering the smaller population of Kashmir makes the infections more manageable than the densely populated states across India.

Kashmir economy is looking forward to a post-Coronavirus period and hopes it remains peaceful. The region has been through a long period of disruption. We can only hope that the world is able to get a handle on this deadly virus and get back to a normal life.

Meanwhile, the only thing that can defeat the pandemic is the vaccination. The urgency of administering jabs to people can’t be over-emphasised. We can hardly afford the steep spike in the cases that could force the government to go for yet another lockdown. So the vaccination has to pick up in right earnest. In Kashmir too, there’s a dire need that more and more people get shots. On Monday, the former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah also tested positive. J&K recorded 235 new positive COVID-19 cases, taking the infection tally to 1,30,228, even as no fresh death due to the disease was reported in the Union territory. A day earlier, on Sunday, the region had recorded 309 coronavirus cases, in the year’s highest daily count. The death toll has reached 1,989 with four new fatalities in Kashmir. But the vaccination is not yet commensurate with the spread of the infection. It is time that the government speeds up the inoculation drive and sets up more vaccination centres. The Valley needs to be Covid-free for the businesses to return to normal and tourism to pick up in the warmer seasons ahead.

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