J&K: Lockdown reimposed in Srinagar amid rise in corona cases, deaths

(Updating earlier copy)

Abid Bashir

Srinagar (NVI): In the wake of continuous rise in Covid-19 cases and a spike in new virus deaths, the Jammu and Kashmir administration today reimposed lockdown in Srinagar to contain further spread of the deadly pandemic.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Dr Shahid Iqbal has said that fine for violators has also been increased from Rs 500 to Rs 1000.

Natipora area of Srinagar being sealed again. (Photo via arrangement)

In this regard, a high-level meeting was held at Civil Secretariat Srinagar yesterday, where top officials from the Kashmir administration were present. “The officers deliberated over the suggestions that had poured in from various quarters that lockdown should be re-imposed so that virus spread is contained,” sources privy to the meeting told NVI.

Earlier, doctors, traders, civil society activists and other sections of the society had urged the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to take steps in this direction. “There is a demand for re-imposing lockdown. We are seriously discussing it. Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu has taken it up with all his advisors,” said Divisional Commissioner PK Pole said, adding a final announcement will be made soon.

Sources said that in the late evening meeting held at Srinagar Civil Secretariat yesterday, where Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary was also present, a unanimous decision was taken that lockdown will be re-imposed in 90 per cent area of Srinagar to prevent further spread of Covid-19. “Srinagar administration is ready to enforce lockdown again,” a source privy to the meeting told NVI earlier.

Interestingly, since Unlock-2, Kashmir witnessed a huge spurt in Covid-19 positive cases as J&K UT yesterday crossed 10,000 cases while 175 deaths have been reported so far of which 158 people died in Kashmir alone. Srinagar district tops the list of positive cases at 10,000 and 41 deaths.

All 175 people, who died due to the virus, breathed their last in Covid-19 designated hospitals in Srinagar. The Srinagar administration had received requests from doctors, paramedics, traders and other sections who had demanded re-imposition of lockdown. Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Khan said the first priority is life, then business. “If the government decides to re-impose lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus further, we will abide by the decision,” he said.

Doctors Association Kashmir president, Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan said the virus had changed its behavior and had become more active in the Valley. “The only way to prevent its spread is to impose lockdown for at least two weeks,” he told NVI. “We are receiving patients at SHMS hospital with acute symptoms of bilateral pneumonia who need oxygen immediately. This is alarming and signifies dangerous change in virus behavior,” Dr Nisar said.

He said either the virus would take a dangerous turn in Unlock-2 or remain as mild as it is. “But given the present situation, it has taken a dangerous turn. Imagine, 30 patients arriving at SMHS hospital with acute bilateral pneumonia, who all need oxygen. All of them were prime suspects of Covid,” he added.

Dr Saleem Khan, Nodal officer for Covid-19 for Kashmir, said that the rise in virus cases and deaths suggest that the Valley was heading towards a catastrophic phase. “Situation is not far when hospitals will be full and ventilators would fall short in number to treat patients. I advocate immediate imposition of lockdown to deal with the situation,” he said earlier.