Srinagar: With no let-up in the number of fresh COVID positive cases and death, restrictions continued for the ninth successive day on Saturday in the summer capital, Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley.
The Union Territory on Friday hit another grim milestone with a record single-day spike of 5443 Covid-19 infections and 50 deaths.
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday announced that it will distribute COVID kits, including an Oxymeter and medicines, to people who are testing positive for Coronavirus in the Union Territory (UT) from Sunday.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration earlier this week extended the ongoing ‘corona curfew’ for the third successive time since April 29 in four districts, including Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam and Jammu till May 10.
Barring Shopian, the lockdown was extended by the respective Deputy Commissioners of other districts in the valley. ‘The weekend curfew also came into effect from 1900 hrs on Friday till 0700 hrs on Monday,’ an official said.
The extension in the lockdown in the valley has come in the backdrop of unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Kashmir, particularly the summer capital, Srinagar, which has recorded the major chunk of positive cases during the last about 27 days. Srinagar alone, out of 5443 new Covid-19 cases in J&K, reported 1071 cases on Friday, while Anantnag recorded 568 cases followed by Baramulla with 496 cases, Budgam with 384 cases, Kulgam with 344 cases, Kupwara with 198 cases, Ganderbal with 169 cases, Shopian with 134 cases and Pulwama with 118 cases. Only one district in Kashmir – Bandipora – has recorded fresh COVID case in double digit.
Majority of the people remained confined to their homes even as streets continued to wear a deserted look on Saturday while shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the roads in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley, where security forces have closed majority of the roads with barbed wires and barricades to stop the movement of people. But, reports of violation of lockdown were coming from some areas in the city.
All the roads and market places, including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, remained sealed to prevent movement of people. Shops and businesses establishments were closed while all the roads were deserted as traffic and people were off the roads in downtown, civil lines, uptown in Srinagar. But, people with emergency or associated with essential services, including doctors and paramedics, were allowed to move on the roads after proper verification at various checkpoints established by police.
Reports of similar restrictions were coming from other parts of the valley, including Sopore, Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara in north and Shopian, Anantnag, Pulwama and Kulgam in south Kashmir. Shops and business establishment were closed and road wore a deserted look in these districts, where police parties were patrolling their respective areas to ensure strict implementation of the lockdown.
Business and other activities also remained crippled in central Kashmir districts of Budgam and Ganderbal, where roads have been closed with barbed wires in most parts to prevent movement of vehicles and people.
The administration also ordered the closure of all universities, colleges, schools, and coaching centres in the Union Territory till May 15 though teaching and non-teaching staff was asked to attend schools and colleges. But, last month, the J&K administration allowed teaching and non-teaching staff to stay home in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir. The closure of the educational institutes was last week extended till May 30.
Teachers, however, are conducting online classes from home in the valley though many students alleged that they were unable to attend these classes due to non-availability of smart phones. The decision to allow teachers to take online classes from their respective homes was taken after many teaching and non teaching staff members of government schools tested positive for the virus in the Union Territory.