Srinagar: After a decline was reported in COVID-19 cases following a second wave earlier this year, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) are gearing up for a possible third wave as cases begin to surge in the region.
At least one person has died due to the disease in the Jammu division on Wednesday, according to official data shared through a media bulletin. The Union territory government on Wednesday reported over 150 new positive coronavirus cases, including 32 from the Jammu division and 124 from the Kashmir division, taking the total number of positive cases in J&K to 3.2 lakhs.
The J&K UT has reported nearly 1,900 cases so far in September after reporting close to 4,000 infections and about 30 deaths in August. In July, it had reported about 5,800 cases and 55 deaths. The region underwent the second wave in June when it witnessed over 25,000 cases and 416 deaths. Even as the numbers are steady, the authorities have started to reinforce the social distancing norms.
The authorities have designated as many as 27 areas in Srinagar district as active containment zones including some parts of the Old City area and Buchpora outskirts where the free movement has been restricted.
“The decision to declare these localities as containment zones were taken by the administration after reviewing the rising cases of COVID-19,” an official spokesperson said.
Due to the rise of cases in these areas of Srinagar, the district administration have heightened their efforts to ensure SoPs and guidelines are followed.
In a statement, the magisterial flying squads constituted by the district administration conducted an inspection of various checkpoints at various locations of Srinagar including at Bemina, Batamaloo, Lal Chowk and other areas during which, an official said, 13 persons were detained for not wearing masks and violating the Covid-19 guidelines.
The district magistrate of Srinagar Mohammad Aijaz Asad on Wednesday directed the residents to strictly follow the government directions and use face masks while maintaining social distancing rules.
“We are witnessing a rise in cases from the past many days. COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over and we are at the stage where adopting COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is paramount to avoid the expected danger of a third wave of the pandemic as predicted by health experts,” Asad was quoted as saying.
The administration also warned that anybody found without a mask in public places shall have to face action which includes a fine.
After a decline in cases, health experts warned that people in the region have become lenient while following the COVID-related safety measures. “We can see that not many people wear masks now in the market area. There is also rush in various public places which is a concern,” a health professional monitoring COVID-19 told NewsClick.
Dr Masood Rashid, Consultant Anaesthesia Directorate of Health Services, however, said it is too early to say that the cases are rising due to a third wave. "But now we have to be careful and it is high time to go for vaccination and also take flu vaccination to prevent swine flu," he said.
According to official information on the infection, about 75% of the population has been vaccinated across J&K which means over 96 lakh persons have been administered with at least one dose. There are a total of 5,776 COVID dedicated beds- 5,093 Isolation beds with 5,011 beds vacant and 683 ICU beds with 665 vacant beds in the J&K UT.