No lackadaisical approach, please!
India is in the middle of what experts call the second wave of Covid19. In the past month, the number of Covid19 positive cases has risen considerably across the country, breaching the two-lakh mark on Thursday in what is considered to be this year’s highest-ever tally. While the country has already surpassed Brazil to take the No. 2 slot in the most-affected countries in the world — the US being No.1 as on date —Jammu and Kashmir is among the States/UTs which have seen a massive spike in the cases over the past one month.
The UT’s Covid tally continues to rise unabated: from 195 officially reported cases on March 24 to 461 officially reported cases on April 1 to 517 officially reported cases the next day and then to 1141 fresh cases on April 15. This is coupled with the fact that five to six deaths due to Covid19 are reported almost every next day in the UT. It is a massive spike compared to such figures last year. Most of the cases (ranging from 300 to 400) are being reported from Srinagar City alone.
The Covid resurgence has led to the closure of schools and coaching centres across the UT until April 30, hitting the education sector that was already battling the fallout of the first Covid19 wave. Amidst this spike, what is perplexing is the lackadaisical attitude on part of the authorities concerned to handle this Covid ‘explosion’ with a sense of seriousness. While the UT administration has been prompt enough to close schools and coaching centres, it has, however, invited flak for not closing down the gardens and parks, where a major rush of visitors was seen in the first two weeks of April. There has been a massive outrage in the public circles, and across social media platforms, over the double standards being pursued in arresting Covid resurgence at official levels. While many commentators have argued that the government was trying to underplay the Covid upsurge, some have opined that gardens and parks are kept open to show that situation is normal. This however has met with stiff criticism given the massive spike in Covid cases across the J&K UT, especially Srinagar City where these parks and gardens are located. In fact, it wasn’t taken well at public levels that the authorities themselves led from the front to review arrangements for the recently-held Tulip Festival at a time when the Covid cases were officially showing an upward trend.
Given the country-wide scenario, where more than 2 lakh cases were reported on Thursday—the situation requires a very serious approach on part of the UT administration for its effective handling. Health professionals have already advised that the second wave is going to be worse than the first one. Therefore, it is important that the UT administration urgently pulls up its socks and ensure that it’s not caught napping vis-à-vis Covid handling in the next few months when the virus is expected to peak. The administration must immediately order the closure of all parks and gardens — and other gatherings — for the time being while ensuring that people visiting the UT from other parts of the country and abroad are permitted in only after producing a Covid19 negative test report (of last 24 to 48 hours) or only after being tested with RTPCR at the entry points to the UT, especially Srinagar airport and the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
All said and done. Any dual approach on part of the authorities to handle the Covid crisis will lead to more mistrust between the government and the public in regard to adhering to the Covid-appropriate behaviour and following other social distancing norms. The government’s line, approach and policy to handle Covid19 have to be clear for one and all to ensure that there’s no mistrust at the public level which could only compound the problem. On its part, the people must adhere to Covid19 SOPs to contribute to minimizing the deleterious impact of the pandemic, which has already disrupted life beyond imaginable proportions.