Curbs Freeze Life in Kashmir, Hospitals Defer Surgeries

A CRPF man halting a motorcyclist during coronavirus imposed curbs in the Old City of Srinagar | KO Photo, Abid Bhat

SRINAGAR: Normal life remained affected in many areas in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday with the imposition of the lockdown in the wake of an alarming surge in coronavirus cases, officials said.

"Restrictions on the movement and assembly of people continued to remain imposed in many districts of the UT in the wake of the lockdown announced by the government," the officials said.

They said while curfew was in place across the Kashmir valley and in Jammu district, restrictions on the assembly of people were also imposed in many areas of the Jammu division.

Security forces put barricades on roads at many places here as well as in other district headquarters of the valley to prevent the movement of people, they added.

The officials said while the restrictions are being implemented strictly, essential and emergency services are allowed.

The officials said shops, fuel stations and other business establishments were shut across the valley, while public transport was off the roads.

On April 29, the Jammu and Kashmir administration imposed a curfew in 11 districts in a bid to tackle the surge in COVID-19 cases, which was subsequently extended to all the 20 districts the next day.

The curfew, which was supposed to end at 7 am on May 3, was extended in the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar besides Budgam and Baramulla till 7 am on Thursday.

However, the authorities in other districts of the valley also ordered the extension in the restrictions till Thursday.

The state on Tuesday recorded its biggest single-day spike with 4,650 fresh COVID cases, taking the tally to 1,91,869, even as 37 fatalities over the last 24 hours took the toll to 2,458, officials said.

Out of the fresh cases, 1,463 were from the Jammu division and 3,187 from the Kashmir division of the union territory, they said.

The officials said Srinagar district recorded the highest of 1,311 cases, followed by 598 in Jammu district and 417 in Anantnag district.

The number of active cases has reached 37,302 in the union territory, while 1,52,109 patients have recovered so far, the officials said.

The death toll in the union territory due to the pandemic rose to 2,458 as 37 fresh deaths -- 25 in Jammu region and 12 in Kashmir valley -- were reported in the past 24 hours.

The authorities in Jammu issued an order on Wednesday deferring routine surgeries in government and private health institutions in the division, owing to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases.

Issued by Divisional Commissioner Raghav Langer, the order, however, said emergency services and critical care required for co-morbid and dialysis patients, and maternal and child health services would continue as usual.

"In view of the prevailing situation of COVID-19 pandemic in Jammu Division which demands optimal utilisation of available resources so that the existing infrastructure/healthcare facilities are not overburdened, the elective/routine surgeries are required to be deferred," Langer said in the order.

He said the main focus of the healthcare system at this juncture was the management of COVID-19 cases.

"All elective/routine surgeries shall be deferred in government as well as private health institutions in the division; unless there are pressing medical reasons and the benefits of such procedure outweigh the risk related to COVID-19 situation and its fallout," the order said.

Langer directed district magistrates and chief medical officers to conduct random inspections and audits of healthcare institutions to enforce compliance of the order.

"The order shall be reviewed periodically based on the evolving COVID-19 situation," he said.

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