Srinagar: The Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir reported 73 deaths on Monday, the highest recorded fatalities in a single day due to coronavirus in the region. A majority of the 54 such deaths were reported from Jammu division, while the Kashmir valley reported 19 deaths, according to official data.
The Union territory reported as many as 3,344 new positive cases on Monday, which included 1,418 from Jammu and 1,926 from Kashmir taking the total number of active positive cases to 50,852 even as many recoveries were reported till the latest reports from last night.
Even as Jammu has reported less rate of transmission of the infection, deaths in the winter capital have increase at an alarming rate since last month amid growing concerns about medical response in the region. Since April 1, fresh cases of COVID-19 have spiked from less than 3,000 active positive cases to over 50,000 cases in the region, while the UT reported around 2,000 deaths in one year. There have been as many as 1,200 deaths since April, taking the toll to over 3,200 deaths in the region.
The spike in cases also comes at a time when the UT has been under a curfew for over a month now, which has been extended until May 24, the fourth time since it was announced for the first time in April. Many health experts have voiced concern that cases are likely to increase in the coming weeks and have made distressing projections until May-end.
The authorities in the region have been accused by many for not being able to handle the pandemic smoothly even as the situation has not been as dire as in rest of the country. Political parties have accused the administration of alleged “gross mismanagement” and some have termed the situation on the ground as “worrying” especially in view of the lack of COVID-related medicines and the non-availability of vaccines.
After vaccines were announced to be made available for the 18-45 age group from May 1, there was a delay in the initial days, however, for nearly a week after a few days of limited vaccination, all stocks remain dry. The summer capital of Srinagar recorded only 31 doses being given on Sunday to those above 45-years-old and has so far been able to provide only 1.9 lakh doses. The official COVID-19 bulletin skipped releasing the daily data related to vaccine administration, drawing ire online.
“My grandmother visited the health centre thrice and each time she was told that vaccines were not available. There is an acute shortage of vaccine,” Owais Zargar, a resident of Srinagar, said.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Mohammed Najmu Saqib accused the administration of being “impervious” to the woes of people.
"Essential supplies are nowhere in sight, inflation has skyrocketed, burdening the already suffering common man, life-saving drugs are elusive and yet the administration rather than being focused on resolving these issues, is geared toward stifling dissent, arresting artistes and patting itself on the back for 'robust' management," Saqib said.
Jammu & Kashmir People’s Conference leader Basharat Bukhari said there seemed to be a “deep chasm” between government claims and the reality on ground. "The dreadful surge in COVID deaths in the region demands mass level immunisation but there is serious incongruity being witnessed in the approach of those at the helm in administration,” Bukhari was quoted as saying.
Others, too, termed the dearth of vaccines in Kashmir as troubling, as they questioned the government over rising deaths, mismanagement and for hiding information related to vaccines from people.