In last eight days, Jammu and Kashmir reported over a thousand novel coronavirus cases daily. On September 2, the covid-19 tally stood at 38874 and it reached 49134 on September 10, recording an increase of 10260 cases during the time. En route, the J&K recorded the highest ever single-day tally of 1617 cases on Wednesday last. The Srinagar and Jammu, the twin capitals of the J&K, continue to top the tally with the former having 10980 covid-19 cases while the latter’s number stands at 7282 as on September 10.
In the case of Jammu, the surge has been on account of the aggressive testing started recently while Srinagar continues to witness higher numbers of infected people for quite some time now.
The numbers sound threatening but should not overawe the administration in going back from the approach that is centered on testing and already helped countries like Italy, China and Spain among others to bend the curve. However, the government should be alive to the fact that even though the testing done each day has been growing, most of them are rapid antigen having only about 50-60% sensitivity. Unfortunately, with no repeat testing of negative cases being validated with a RT-PCR, many of the infected are not being diagnosed.
The focus must remain on diagnosing the most probable cases even as many of those infected have mild or no symptoms. There is also the possibility of an over-reliance on antigen testing to cope with the growing demand for testing but it could prove counterproductive and as such a balance in this regards is a must.
Another area of concern came to the fore during a high-level meeting when the centre was alerted to some of the reasons for the failure to check the pandemic. It was revealed that a large number of grass-root health workers like ASHA activists and volunteers do not know what they are expected to do in containment zones. District medical officers reportedly evinced very little knowledge of the special measures required to shield and treat vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those with comorbidities. The government needs to address the issue. Also, the Centre must continue to its monitoring and tackling emergencies which require concerted ground-level action involving the government of India and J&K administration. Also, people need not be complacent and a failure to adherence to the social distancing measures and hand washing etiquettes can prove disastrous, especially for the vulnerable lot.