There is a worrying spike in covid-19 cases in several states of India. Jammu and Kashmir is no exception and is witnessing an uptick in the infections lately. On March 18, J&K saw 140 fresh cases to take the overall tally to 128097. The active cases have gone past over a thousand again—1073 to be exact—244 in Jammu and 829 in Kashmir.
Beyond doubt, there was an alarming degree of laxity at all levels with testing numbers steadily dropping, contact-tracing reduced to just getting immediate family members of positive cases tested while mask wearing, as well as enforcement of social distancing norms, are observed more in breach than the adherence required.
The best way to fight the “second wave”, apart from strictly instituting Covid-19 management protocols, is to use the vaccines. Presently, people above the age of 60 or those older than 45 with varied medical conditions can be inoculated. There is need to relax the eligibility criteria. No doubt, protecting the most vulnerable is vital but at the same time a large number of infections are still among younger people who are more mobile, and likely to be the ones spreading the infection most. So far globally nearly 393 million doses of vaccine have been administered, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. India accounts for around 9% of them. In Kashmir context, so far 77% of healthcare workers, 78% of front line workers, and 12.28% of elderlies and co-morbid patients, totalling 4,39,910 people have been vaccinated in Jammu and Kashmir with no reported case of extreme adversity. The government said that arrangements have also been put in place for on-spot registration and administration of vaccination to the remaining health care workers and frontline workers, yet to be vaccinated. It should be hastened. It is good that government has also decided to increase Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs).
As has been underlined by Chief Secretary at a meeting, there is need for greater coordination between the frontline workers of various departments including health, social welfare, school education, rural development, and housing and urban development to effectively deliver the vaccines at the grass-root level.
There is also need to allay fears amid recent flurry of reports from Europe that blood clots are developing in a very small fraction of those vaccinated and leading to a cascade of European countries announcing a temporary halt to their vaccination programmes involving the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine.
Public trust remains a key ingredient to successful vaccination programmes and all measures should be taken to dispel the fears.