'Travelers, tourists constitute 21% of cases in April'

GK File/Mir Imran

As the cases of COVID-19 are increasing at a rapid pace, the percentage of travelers tested positive on arrival in J&K constitute 21 percent of total cases reported in this month so far.

As per the official details, since the beginning of this month, 22986 persons have tested positive for novel coronavirus of which 4620 are travelers and tourists who on arrival tested positive for the viral respiratory illness.

It implies that out of the total cases reported from April 1 to 20, 21 percent of the cases constitute travelers and tourists.

On April 1, the number of infection cases was 131421 which has jumped to 154407 on April 22. On Tuesday, J&K reported its highest spike of 2204 cases on Wednesday.

Following the increase in number of travelers testing positive, the government has now made testing mandatory for all inbound travelers.

A senior health department official said, “Earlier there used to be testing for travelers at Srinagar Airport only, but after we saw a trend of travelers reporting to test positive increasing, we have started testing travelers entering J&K through surface links as well.”

Officials informed that Kathua administration is conducting Covid-19 tests for the people entering Jammu and Kashmir at Lakhanpur.

“Lakhanpur is the gateway for Jammu and Kashmir. Lakhanpur has been declared as the red zone by the UT government. The tests are being conducted for the people entering the UT. The passengers who travel from any hotspot area go through an RT-PCR test, while others go through Rapid Antigen Test,” a senior official said.

As per the health experts, the second wave of the pandemic and surge in the cases in J&K has coincided with the opening of the tourist season as the administration decided to throw open tourist destinations.

Though there was a demand for making negative RT-PCR mandatory for tourists arriving from the hotspot zones of the country, the authorities didn’t pay any heed to such suggestions.

Two tourists – one from Maharashtra and another from Gujarat – have died of COVID-19 at the Chest Disease hospital of Srinagar in the past month. Both had tested negative on arrival at Srinagar Airport, where each traveler undergoes Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).