J&K is among the 12 states and UTs worst affected by the exponential surge in COVID19 cases, government of India has said.
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MohFW) on Saturday, while referring to the pandemic situation in J&K and elsewhere in India said: "The concept of 'second wave' reflected more the laxity among everyone regarding COVID19 Appropriate Behaviour and COVID containment and management strategy at the ground level".
While interacting with high level officials via video conference, it said "stringent action including effective containment and contact tracing for at least 14 successive days" was strongly recommended for breaking the chain of transmission.
Meanwhile, the UT government has instructed stricter enforcement of SOPs for containing the spread of the infection, instead of a lockdown that could have wider impact on economy and livelihoods.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole, said that the rise in cases was a concern and that the government was monitoring the situation closely.
"Masks are of primary importance in order to contain the spread, both within families, at work places at public places and elsewhere. So, first, we will ensure wearing of masks by the people at every place," he said.
The Div Com said that the government was in discussion with opinion makers, religious heads, traders associations and other stakeholders to help increase adherence to mask guidelines. Stricter fines on people found without masks at public places have also been ordered.
While comparing the present covid19 situation with the last year, he said the government was utilizing vaccination, which became available in January this year, to reduce the number of cases. "We are aggressively undertaking vaccination of all the high risk groups and have safeguarded over 6 lakh population," he said. More people, he said, would be given the shot in coming weeks. "Even if we have larger numbers (of infections) in coming days, we expect deaths to reduce drastically due to vaccines that have been given to high risk groups," he said.
Although J&K has one of the highest per million tests in India, the government plans to increase it further for 'early detection'.
Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo said that testing was low in some districts of the UT. "We are increasing the number of tests in Ganderbal, Rajouri, Kupwara, Doda and other places where we found a rising positive percentage among samples," he said, adding that the tests would help transmission.
Testing, he said, would also be focused on high risk groups such as those with co-morbidities and pregnant women. "The travelers are also a target area and we have been committed towards cent percent testing of all incoming passengers on all routes, land and air," he said.
A senior health official said that Government had received instructions from health ministry to impose lockdown or restrictions on gatherings if and when cases rise. "However the UT government is keeping that option as the last resort given the implications it will have and all stakeholders, including be the business community is being kept in loop towards such steps" the official said.
He said that night curfew was also being discussed as a step that may be taken if the situation continues to worsen.