There is a continuous surge in Covid-19 across J&K while the active cases are increasing at a fast pace. Even though the number of cases is gradually going down in Jammu division, the Kashmir Valley has seen a major spike in the daily count of cases from the past few weeks which has made the situation worrisome.
Despite repeated advice, the government guidelines for adherence to the Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) have gone for a toss as people have started taking the virus for granted.
It seems that the people have forgotten the Covid-19 SoPs as they rarely behave in accordance with the evolving Covid-19 situation.
There is no doubt that the present variant of the virus is mild and its infection has not led to hospitalisation or the demand for oxygen facilities has not increased as well. But that does not mean people will prefer to get infected instead of taking precautions and remain guarded to avoid the spread of the virus.
Going by the figures provided by the government, Kashmir has witnessed a major spike in cases and out of all cases around 70 to 80 percent of the cases are recorded from Kashmir alone. Also the number of active cases is increasing with each passing.
In such a situation, people need to remain guarded and take all the preventive measures so that Valley does not witness the same devastating experience as was seen during the second wave last year.
Calling for precautions does not mean to create panic, but people should not lower their guard considering that the Covid-19 is not over yet. Though with mild symptoms it is spreading at a fast pace.
Amid the spike in cases, the government made wearing of face masks mandatory at public places, offices, gathering and other spots to avoid spread of the infection.
Also, educational institutions were sansitised and asked to ensure that preventive measures are taken to safeguard the health of the students.
But, the guidelines have seen poor implementation on the ground. Even in government offices particularly the hospitals, there is poor implementation of the government directions.
Ideally, the entry into the hospitals and other government offices should be denied to people who come without wearing a face mask but unfortunately, not only the visitors but the officials and the higher rank officers are found violating the government guidelines and are found roaming.
The situation in health institutions is no different from government offices as everyone visiting the hospitals is allowed entry without wearing a face mask which poses a risk to the patients and even the family of the visitors as the chain can spread from anywhere.
The hospital authorities allow more than two to three attendants with the patients despite the government directions to put a cap on the “unnecessary” visits in the hospitals.
The infection has also spread in schools, colleges and Universities as well.
From towns to rural areas, every day almost half a dozen test positive in schools which force the school authorities to suspend the class work of the students.
The schools, colleges and universities should adopt preventive measures and should not take any chances to get the students infected. While the government has achieved 100 percent target of administering both the doses to youth and elderly people, on the other hand the small school going children are yet to be vaccinated and are more prone to the present strain of the virus.
Every second or third child has cough, cold and fever and tests positive which raises questions on adherence to CAB in school premises, classrooms and even in school buses.
People should behave maturely and should not wait for the government to impose restrictions and disallow movement which will ultimately affect the economy and will have other adverse effects attached with it.
So it is better to take precautions than to get infected which will create panic among the masses.
The government is equally worried and is closely watching the evolving situation as the surge in daily count of cases has become worrisome.
The government is expected to give a proportionate response as per the situation as and when needed.
Obviously, the rise in cases is a worrisome situation for the government which is putting in all efforts by setting up testing facilities at every place and are administering booster doses to people besides taking up the campaign of vaccinating the kids as well.
“We are definitely worried about the situation and are watchful of the evolving situation,” the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang Kundbarao Pole earlier said.
He said the rise in case was a serious matter and the government will not give any disproportionate response to the evolving situation.
“We are equally concerned over the situation as you are. Proper response will be given what is demanded as per situation,” he said.
While the government has expressed its concern over the rise in daily count of cases, the experts also call for adoption of preventive strategies to avoid further spread of the virus.
“Preventive strategies have not changed but people have done away with washing hands and wearing face masks which should not happen,” director Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Prof. (Dr) Parvaiz Ahmad Koul said.
He said even the current strain circulating was not causing a rise in hospitalisation and the demand in need of oxygen supply did not increase as well.
“Even if the present strain is mild that does not mean we should be careless. We have to be careful about the situation,” he said.
He said the people should not lower their guard to the extent that we will be back to the situation which we faced in the last two years.
“There is absolutely nothing to be panic about as the variant is with mild symptoms but you never know when the situation can change. So there is no harm if people will maintain CAB,” he said.
Director SKIMS said wearing face masks and washing hands will not only protect from Covid but will also keep other infections at bay.
“So wearing face masks and washing hands, maintaining social distance is an inexpensive way to protect yourself. It is very simple so we should protect ourselves,” he said.
He said there are some credible surveys which have already predicted that there would be an increase in cases but there would not be a crunch on hospital resource use. “Which means that hospitalisation and ICU will not be needed,” he said.
He said the government must be closely watching the situation and holding deliberations on whether there is a need to take any policy decision like they did in the past.
“But I personally believe that right now we do not need to go beyond adopting CAB,” he said.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.