Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday, reported 5992 Covid-19 cases, the highest ever single-day daily count in cases recorded in J&K. On average, J&K has reported 3718 cases every day in the past week, which means the trajectory has now surpassed the previous peak of 1330 reported for the week ending January 7. This rising case rate has come right in the middle of the winter, which could intensify the spread. This peak has also been accompanied by a rise in the positivity rate
At a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary today it was apprised that although the Omicron variant is maintaining a high transmission, raising the weekly positivity rate from 0.5% to 5.4% over the previous fortnight, the oxygen bed occupancy and ICU bed occupancy are currently at a comfortable level of 7.7% and 14.0%, respectively. It was given out that the healthcare facilities have been ramped up and are in a state of readiness to cater to any eventualities.
A fast-rising positivity rate typically suggests that a region is testing inadequately and is, thus, letting the virus get more prevalent.
However, the government said that in comparison to the second (Delta) wave, Jammu and Kashmir has doubled its testing capacity to over 80,000 daily tests which is also being reflected in the higher number of daily reported cases. It was informed that although number of reported daily cases has crossed the peak of the second wave, the comparative peak positivity rate and bed occupancy rate during the current wave continue to remain low at 7.0% and 6.2% viz-a-viz second wave’s 10.9% and 60.8% respectively.
Jammu and Kashmir is also maintaining a lower positivity rate in comparison to the national average of about 17%.
The road map ahead is clear. First, the government should improve testing, in overall numbers as well as the share of RT-PCR tests. Not only will that narrow down on cases and bring down the positivity rate, it will also provide more credible data.
Second, there is no alternative to stronger citizen compliance to social distancing norms. People must adhere to the covid-19 appropriate behavior. Restrictions are not desirable, given the economic costs, but this hinges on citizens behaving responsibly. For now the government decision to impose curbs on non-essential travel for over 60 hours is appropriate but hopefully the need should not arise next week and for that to happen, there should be more testing while people should follow CAB religiously.