Srinagar- The third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to cover people in the 18-45 age group began in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday in a phased manner starting with the cities of Srinagar and Jammu.
Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Aijaz Asad kick-started the vaccination drive for the people in the age group of 18-45 years at Shri Maharaj Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital here.
Officials said 1.25 lakh new doses of the two vaccines -- Covaxin and Covishield -- reached the valley on Saturday.
Asad said the eligible people must get themselves registered and that nobody will get the jab without registering for the vaccination.
He said a total of 10 designated centres have been set up by the district administration for the people to be vaccinated.
'The number of designated centres will be increased soon,' he added.
Earlier in the day, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said COVAXIN will be administered to the 18-45 age group free of cost.
'It will be by prior registration and prior appointment only. Please do not crowd the vaccination centres without appointment,' the Department of Information and Public Relations said on Twitter on Saturday.
The government has announced a free of cost vaccine for the people falling in the age group of 18-45.
The first consignment of the Covaxin vaccine arrived in the valley from Hyderabad on Saturday, the officials said.
They said 15 boxes having a total of 75,000 doses of Covaxin were received at the Srinagar airport from the Hyderabad airport in the morning.
The officials said another consignment of 50,000 doses of Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, Pune, also arrived at the Srinagar airport.
Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday recorded its biggest single-day spike of 3,832 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the tally to 1,79,915, while a record 47 fatalities in the last 24 hours raised the toll to 2,330.
'Vaccination Underway In Jails'
The COVID-19 vaccination of eligible jail inmates is in progress and was started from the holding centre' housing over 200 illegal immigrants from Myanmar here, Director General of Police, Prisons Department, V K Singh said on Saturday.
He said there are no coronavirus positive cases among over 4,500 inmates in any of the 13 jails across the Union Territory, which is a big achievement despite the lethal second wave which forced the department to suspend the physical meeting of the inmates with their relatives for their safety.
The COVID-19 vaccination drive was started on April 6 from the Holding Centre Hiranagar in Kathua district, where 58 eligible internees were inoculated. Srinagar central jail saw 38 inmates being vaccinated against the dreaded infection on April 16 and another group of 16 inmates received a jab in district jail Rajouri on April 19, Singh told PTI.
A total of 201 Rohingyas including 74 women and 35 children are presently lodged in the holding centre after they were found living illegally in Jammu city during a special verification drive in March.
According to government data, over 13,700 foreigners, including Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi nationals, are settled in Jammu and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir, where their population has increased by over 6,000 between 2008 and 2016.
The vaccination drive is in progress and will be intensified once adequate stocks of vaccines are available, the DGP prisons said.
Against a total capacity of 3,426, there are 4,550 inmates lodged in 13 jails across Jammu and Kashmir. The inmates include over 1,000 suspected militants and 69 foreign nationals -- 24 from Pakistan, 13 from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir (PcK), 15 (Burma), eight (Nepal), five (Bangladesh), three (China) and one (Holland).
On the directions of the Supreme Court to decongest jails to ensure social distancing among the prisoners after the outbreak of the pandemic last year, the high-powered committee released 4,204 inmates on bail and 41 others on parole till March this year.
The COVID-19 situation inside the jails is well under control as none of the inmates are positive for the infection. Given the prevailing (COVID-19) situation, it is a big achievement for the department, Singh said.
While two elderly prisoners, one each from district jail Rajouri and Sub-jail Bhaderwah, having co-morbidities had succumbed to COVID-19, 542 prisoners recovered from the infection after successful treatment and various measures put in place by the department for the safety of the prisoners, he said.
In view of the surge in COVID-19 cases within and outside J&K, we have once again suspended physical 'mulaqat' (meeting) of inmates with their family members with effect from April 27. However, to enable contact of inmates with their family members, telephone facility have been made available in all the 13 jails of the Union Territory, the DGP Prisons said.
He said all new arrivals are accepted only with COVID negative certificates.
If anyone is found positive, he or she is taken on the prison rolls but sent to Government Medical College (GMC) with guard till his or her report returns negative. Even negative cases on arrival are put in mandatory quarantine inside the jails, he said.
Singh said the department is taking due care of the inmates to ensure that their immune system is in good form, allowed to talk to next of their kin and are involved in cultural and sports activities and encouraged to follow proper COVID behavior, wearing of face masks and regular use of sanitsers.
The department is also carrying out fumigation of the prison complexes regularly, he said.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.