Of late, there has been an increase in the number of coranavirus infections across Jammu and Kashmir. It has a debilitating impact on the lives of people and the economy. Every day, the relatively higher number of Covid-19 cases are added up to the tally which has already surpassed 7500 mark while death toll crossed 100 mark. The administration, after lockdown announced in the second week of March and extended thrice, launched Unlock 1.0 on June 7. On June 30, it extended guidelines cum restrictions issued until July 3with the government saying that the Center’s fresh guidelines on some relaxations require a detailed assessment and consultations on the spread of COVID-19 in Jammu and Kashmir.
While the lockdowns were aimed at safeguarding lives, the Unlock, which will be now 2.0, is for securing livelihoods. As J&K has stepped into 17th week of disturbance due to covid-19, both lives and livelihoods are under threat now. It is indicative of increased sufferings of thousands of people especially those who have lost jobs or had telling impact on means of earning. The centre’s fresh guidelines in the Unlock 2.0 phase until July 31 provides for a wider resumption of activity in areas other than containment zones, while retaining the prohibition on mass gatherings which seems an appropriate step.
The centre, from the beginning, left the handling of the covid-19 pandemic, testing, tracing, quarantining and treating high-risk patients to reduce the virus spread and mortality on the capacity of individual States or Union territories. On Tuesday, an official meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir provided a hint about where the Kashmir valley stands. While officials, as per an official statement, appraised the meeting that healthcare and testing facilities have been ramped up and adequate arrangements are being taken to deal the situation, the Divisional Commissioner directed for “achieving” sampling targets in red and non-red zones. Rightly though, the divisional commissioner asked the concerned to ensure 100 percent Covid-19 testing of pregnant women across the valley whose expected date of delivery is in July month well in advance to avoid any mishap. There is no prediction for when COVID-19 could peak and as such there is a heavy responsibility on the administration to take in consideration all aspects including the range of testing while announcing the unlock 2.0. Allowing more activity at this stage could be dangerous given the fact that it could bring more patients to hospitals, which are already stretched especially in terms of fatigued health staff.