Srinagar, Dec 24: Emergence of new mutated version of the COVID-19 in the United Kingdom and it spreading to other countries has pressed the panic button in Kashmir.
Administration in Kashmir is once again gearing up to fight yet another wave of the virus. The authorities in line with the advisory issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MHFW) GoI have initiated preventive measures in efforts to prevent its spread in the Valley.
District Magistrate Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary who is also the Chairman District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Srinagar has ordered that all those who have travel history to the UK or any European country in the past two weeks – since December 9 – will have to undergo RT-PCR testing for COVID-19.
The order directs for quick establishment of separate quarantine facilities where the said travellers and their contacts will be shifted for undergoing the prescribed quarantine period if testing positive — the aim being to prevent spread of the mutated strain.
A medico while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “Reports emanating from the United Kingdom and other European countries indicate that the new COVID-19 strain could prove deadly.”
He said that the new strain has put the question mark over the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. “The new strain emerged in the United Kingdom soon after the immunization drive commenced in the country.”
President of Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) and flu expert Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan told this newspaper it is possible that the changed virus might evade the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine. “While it is anticipated that vaccine efficacy will not be significantly hampered by mutated virus. The new variant might escape the immune response made by the existing vaccines that have been developed against the original strain of the virus,” he added.
Another medico said, “Everyone in Kashmir is eagerly waiting for the COVID vaccine to come, but the reports about the new COVID strain have pressed the panic button. If it reaches the Valley we will be once again caught in a difficult situation amidst harsh winter season. The intake capacity of our hospitals is limited. The administration has to ensure that the people entering into Kashmir are free from COVID, anyone who tests positive should be quarantined and contacts put under isolation.”
An official said, “The administration is monitoring the situation and all of us are hoping that the new COVID strain stays away from the Valley. All the necessary arrangements are being put in place to prevent another wave of COVID sweeping Kashmir.”