Kashmir has been in a lockdown way before the rest of the country experienced it. Before the abrogation of Article 356 in August last year, draconian curbs where put in place, but some of the them were being relaxed, only reimposed in the wake of the pandemic.
Jammu and Kashmir government spokesperson Rohit Kansal recently said: "We are doing the highest testing and our mortality is lowest.” The numbers unfortunately don’t back up that claim. For a population of about 13,340,000, the number of tests till August 7 adds up to only 6.9 lakhs, which is 52,145 tests per million. That’s way less than the state which has done the most tests so far, Tamil Nadu, which is 30.88 lakhs as of August 7.
With 449 fatalities so far, the union territory can’t also claim to have the lowest deaths. States like Kerala (103) and Chhattisgarh (87) have fared far better with the number of fatalities. Nevertheless the state with just 1.15 per cent of the country’s total caseload has seen a steady rise in cases. There has been a steep fall in the number of tests over the past week, but a concomitant fall in the number of cases is not discernible, an indication that with more testing the number of cases would have been much higher. The tests to the number of cases was more than 6 per cent, while it was close to 3 per cent in the beginning of July.
Srinagar has borne the brunt of the pandemic, with more than 24 per cent of the cases being reported from the city. Pulwama reported 1,769 total confirmed cases, which is more than 7 per cent of the total cases in the State.
Of the caseload report on August 7, Reasi had 66 per cent of the active cases. And Jammu too, with 48 per cent of active cases in the district, is higher than Srinagar, which has about 40 per cent active cases.
A look at the charts adjusted to the day when each of the districts reported their first hundred cases respectively shows that the cases in all of them are growing rapidly.
The number of recoveries in the state, as to be expected, have been most in Srinagar (20%), while Baramulla (10%) has witnessed the second most recoveries.
Reports talk of the lockdown having done nothing to improve the inadequate health infrastructure, with about “1,000 dedicated beds available in the five main hospitals of Srinagar of which 70 per cent have oxygen supply lines and 20 per cent have ventilators.” Doctors have also complained about the highhanded behaviour of the security forces, with no let up in the security blanket that the Valley has been in.
When looking at Kashmir, it is impossible to ignore that the lockdown has been accompanied with a ban on 4G internet, which has had serious implications on its battle against the pandemic, and also caused continued challenges for Kashmiris, especially students who have not been able to continue their studies.
As Kashmir braces to deal with the pandemic in the months ahead, it will have to deal with returning non-Kashmiri migrant workers. A report by PTI on August 5 says that about 25,000 migrants are returning to Kashmir.