On Thursday, the government said the covid-19 surge was unprecedented in Jammu and Kashmir as it deferred the biannual darbar move to Srinagar. The government said the civil secretariat, which is the seat of administration, will function both from Srinagar and Jammu cities simultaneously till further orders.
In a related move, the administration extended closure of schools upto 12th standard as well as ordered closure of all the coaching centres in J&K till April 30. Ongoing remaining 10th class examinations conducted by the Jammu and Kashmir Board Of School Education have been cancelled while decisions regarding 12th standard exams have been deferred.
Last two years have been disruptive for students who remained away from their schools and friends and have been forced to deal with new ways to study online, restricted to their homes. For poor or other disadvantaged students, the struggle has been even tougher as most of them do not have same access to digital learning etc.
While the decision on deferring the Darbar move is debatable amid the fact that there are no restrictions on number of travelers arriving either by air or road nor is there any limit on number of passengers in local buses, closing the schools and coaching centre seems prudent. In fact there is no choice, and the government has taken the right call. Amid alarming surge, the administration has also done well in ordering augmentation in the number of bed capacity for Covid-19 patients at all designated hospitals. There is also a need to augment availability of ventilators at all designated hospitals. Ensuring availability and smooth supply of oxygen to hospitals is also imperative. Amid increase in the cases, there is also need to increase testing capacity for RTPCR— considered the “gold standard” for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
It is also imperative that people take the situation more seriously and given the statements by the government and consequent actions, it seems that Jammu and Kashmir is heading down the same route as Maharashtra and New Delhi. Both were forced to take extreme steps by the ravaging virus. The government and people should move with caution. Otherwise there could be more economic hardship when businesses and workers are still nursing the wounds of the first lockdown. It is important that more people are vaccinated and covid-19 appropriate behavior is adhered to in letter and spirit.