Given the unrelenting surge in covid-19 cases, lockdown seems inevitable and it is exactly what Jammu and Kashmir administration has been forced to do. The lockdown announced in the last week of April and extended later was to end on May 10. However, in the middle of a huge surge in covid-19 cases, the lockdown has been extended till May 17, beyond Eid-ul-Fitr falling either on Thursday or Friday subjected to the appearance of the Shawl moon. From 131421 cases on April 1 to 220546 on May 10, Jammu and Kashmir has seen a surge of 89125 cases in the little over five weeks alone. Nearly 800 people also succumbed to the virus during the time. Unlike last year, lockdown is considered by the people as a measure to arrest the spread of the contagion. The public acceptance is more given the fact that there is horror of sweeping infections amid realization that the threat to life from a mutating covid-19 has aggravated manifold not only in J&K but across India. Even though there are various surveys which suggest presence of SARS-CoV-2 in air, WHO underlines that the virus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets and aerosols produced when people cough, sneeze, speak within one metre of each other and also in crowded, poorly ventilated settings. Put otherwise, covid-19 appropriate behavior such as wearing masks, maintaining required distance and frequent hand washing with soap can prevent the virus from spreading further.
On top of it, there is a need to augment vaccinations by the government in a bid to arrest the virus spread.
There is already tremendous pressure on the healthcare facilities and as some experts say, it is on the brink of breaking point. Doctors are finding it hard to cope with the patient rush. Now even critical patients do not easily find a hospital bed. Many government buildings stand converted into covid-19 management facilities but most of them, if not all, lack medic and paramedic support. In view of the Eid-ul-fitr, the government needs to avoid big gatherings at markets, prevent crowding at shops which are to be kept open for limited hours. Also, the administration must immediately use the extended lockdown window to manage existing patient rush to covid-19 facilities and augment critical supplies. There is also a need to increase testing to assess the true scale of the pandemic.
All efforts should be directed to the slow infection curve and it will give breathing space in coming weeks, especially when the government’s scientific advisor among others has termed the third as inevitable.