Follow SOP

JAMMU and Kashmir on Wednesday recorded its highest single-day spike this year as 812 new COVID-19 cases were detected taking the tally to 1,34,827. Six more deaths were also recorded. The   toll is now 2,018 with Srinagar district  once again at top of the pile with  238 cases, including 57 travellers, followed by 138 in Jammu and 79 in Udhampur district.
 With 347 of the fresh cases from Jammu division, the region's  gap with Kashmir division is narrowing. This had happened last year also,  when Jammu division was late to catch up with the Valley and later briefly overtook it. But Jammu had struggled to cope with the rising infections.  One can hope this time around J&K would fare better than last year in terms of response to the surging Covid-19 cases. Since last year, the union territory has significantly bolstered its healthcare infrastructure, albeit, it has fallen short of the soaring cases. Or in some cases, the new equipment has remained unused for want of specialist personnel and the supporting infrastructure.
 Going forward, the situation looks unlikely to change for the better. At the current rate, J&K will go past the peak of the last year.  The UT had less than 1,000 active cases on March 15 while the number of fresh cases crossed the three-digit mark from March 16. The number of active cases has now breached 5,000 mark again, rising to 5,035. This is going to take its toll on the already overburdened medical infrastructure. On a positive note together with the rise in infections, the recoveries are also increasing. So far, 1,27,774 of 1,34,827  patients have recovered. But considering the dramatic spike in fresh infections, this is cold consolation.   The administration is in no position to re-impose lockdown. Two successive lockdowns in the union territory – first, a seven month siege enforced after the erasure of J&K autonomy in August 2019 and second, the extended Covid lockdown since March 2020 have wrecked the economy leaving thousands unemployed.
With the pandemic threatening to overrun us again, the administration's choices are limited. With lockdown ruled out, the enforcement of the Standard Operating Procedure is the key, something that the administration has so far been singularly lax about, and also selective at the same time.  Schools have been closed while tulip garden is free to visit for the people. So, the government needs to get its act right.
All the same, it is also incumbent on the people to follow the SOP and avoid gatherings. After a year of dealing with the pandemic, both the administration and the people are expected to be sufficiently experienced and aware about what's needed to be done to prevent the spread of virus.

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