With every passing day, the covid-19 situation is getting worse in Jammu and Kashmir. Rather it is threatening to force the government to take the course already adopted by some states, including Maharashtra and New Delhi—which have enforced strict covid-19 lockdown. Delhi will be under a week’s lockdown immediately. Strict restrictions have been imposed already in Maharashtra and experts are calling for a 15-day self-imposed lockdown in Gujarat while Rajasthan government has ordered “Jan Anushasan Pakhwada” (public discipline fortnight)—wherein only shops and offices providing essential services will open during the 15-day period.
The situation, admitted to be “challenging” by top officers, has already forced the government to order closure of all education institutes till May 15. Public gatherings have been restricted to 20 in case of funerals, 50 for all kinds of gatherings at indoor venues and 100 for all kinds of assemblies at outdoor venues.
The government has asked deputy commissioners to put in place an effective mechanism to ensure COVID appropriate behaviour in all crowded markets, shopping complexes and malls, besides take stern action against the violators. The situation is different from last year. The beds in hospitals in contemporary time are filled up by the patients requiring immediate attention rather than everyone contracting the infection irrespective of the severity last year. The cases keep rising relentlessly and threaten to soon overwhelm the entire bed capacity in the hospitals. The measures adopted by the J&K government now stand exhausted by states and UTs forced to go for lockdown. It seems that authorities are wasting time while tinkering with restrictions of differing severity. In between people are allowed to mix up and in other words, the virus is given a free run. While it is true that most people have started to wear masks, it’s adherence by all remains distant and practically unviable. People, even health workers, continue to be reluctant to take the vaccine. Besides dispelling hesitancy, the government needs to do more to increase vaccination rates when the Union Health Ministry has announced that everyone above the age of 18 will be eligible to get a vaccine against Covid-19 from May 1.
The present measures though in right earnest may not be enough to actually drive new cases down. The government should take some strict measures including interstate controls especially when it is reluctant to make negative coronavirus tests to enter J&K mandatory.