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ON Tuesday alone, J&K recorded its highest single day spike of 3164 new Covid19 positive cases and 25 deaths. Kashmir Valley accounts for a majority of 2134 cases and 10 deaths in Kashmir and Jammu division 1030 cases and 15 deaths. In Kashmir, Srinagar district alone accounted for 1144 cases which is more than the cases in Jammu division.
This is a 700 percent increase in the number of cases over the last four weeks. 199 people have died in this period because of the infection. This is a scary situation by any measure. And if nothing is done on a war footing to reign it in, our healthcare structure is certain to collapse sooner than the later. Like in the rest of the country, we have hardly upgraded our healthcare infrastructure over the last year. And when Covid started abating by the end of the last year, we also grew complacent. Even in the midst of the resurgence of the contagion, the administration’s response is not commensurate with the grimness of the challenge. In fact, as the cases were rising exponentially,  the administration set up a task force to surveil its employees. A full-fledged task force headed by an ADGP has been created to scrutinize the employees involved in alleged anti-national activities, of whom there must be a very insignificant number out there. Whatever the rationale for the administration to create such a force, this time the Covid-19 crisis should have been the focus of its attention. A task force  should have been created to enforce Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedure in public life, to ensure our medical facilities are sufficiently equipped and staffed to meet the challenge. But that doesn’t seem to be the priority as of now. A tiny number of allegedly anti-national government employees are.
That said, the administration needs to get its priorities right. It has to focus its attention on the stupendous challenge on hand. Any further rise in the cases could plunge Kashmir into a deeper chaos. That is, if it hasn’t already. So, the government has to step up. It doesn’t have many options. For example, a complete lockdown is now ruled out after the economic devastation it caused last year.  Government has to adopt innovative measures to ensure that the rising curve of the cases is flattened and that the healthcare infrastructure is upgraded to deal with the fresh cases. This can be done if the administration involves civil society and NGOs in the effort. Under the circumstances, a deliberately promoted culture of self-restraint by people and the widespread observance of the SOPs will see us through.

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