Several trade bodies including pharmaceuticals, warehouse traders and ready-made garment traders in Jammu have called for an “self-imposed” weekend shutdown in an attempt to help “break the chain” of spiralling COVID-19 cases.
The call for shutdown on Saturdays and Sundays comes at a time when a huge surge COVID-19 cases and deaths due to the virus have been recorded in Jammu. Meanwhile, cases of mismanagement at government hospitals have also come to the fore.
Rakesh Gupta, President of Jammu Pharmaceuticals Distribution Association, told NewsClick, “Jammu is in a huge mess due to increasing COVID cases and the health infrastructure has proved to be a failure. Amid this, we feel that the call for shutdown is need of the hour.”
Two days ago, the J&K administration suspended two officials following an inquiry into the allegations of shortage in oxygen supply to COVID-19 patients at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH). The suspensions came after families of certain patients took to social media to write about their experiences at the hospital and these were further reported by the media.
An inquiry into the accusations was ordered by RR Bhatnagar, Advisor to the Lt Governor. The inquiry report acknowledged the “poor system of delivery to the patients.” The report said, “There has been mismanagement on part of the hospital administration, and officers at the helm of affairs have been dealing with the situation in a very casual and unprofessional manner, thereby putting the things in disarray and the available resources have not been put to optimal use”.
According to sources, more suspensions are underway.
Lamenting over the role of the Union Territory administration, traders told NewsClick that the administration’s apathetic attitude towards the increase in number of cases has pushed them to impose a lockdown on their own market.
“It is the duty of the administration to announce at least 20 days lockdown to break the chain of the virus but unfortunately, even after several pleas, the administration has turned a deaf ear. So, we have taken the matter in our own hands and this shutdown is an attempt in that way,” said Ravi, President of Readymade wholesale association, Kanak Mandi, Jammu.
Newsclick had earlier reported on the increase in Coronavirus cases in Jammu and how the spiked inflow of patients was mismanaged by the government hospital.
The number of active positive cases in Jammu has increased to 11,020 as compared to 8,150 cases in Kashmir division. Yesterday, 642 new cases were reported from Jammu division and 576 from Kashmir with 21 COVID-related deaths. As many as 11 deaths were recorded in Jammu and 10 in Kashmir, taking the UT’s toll to 69,832.
“We are suffering loses, yet we are ready to observe weekend lockdown, which would result in more losses. But the administration is not addressing the problem. We request the administration to take some measures to manage the situation,” said Gupta.