Ahead of Ramzan, Govt urges people to avoid large gatherings

Government spokesman Rohit Kansal addressing a press conference in Jammu on Tuesday.
Government spokesman Rohit Kansal addressing a press conference in Jammu on Tuesday.

‘J&K, Kerala succeed in slowing down virus’
Udhampur removed from ‘Hotspot’ list
Another tests +ve, total cases 56

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Apr 21: Four days ahead of the start of holy month of Ramzan, the Jammu and Kashmir Government today appealed to the people to avoid large gatherings by paying heed to religious, thought leaders and influencers all of whom have been making continuous and repeated appeals for avoiding gatherings to spread check of Coronavirus.
The appeal was made at a press conference this evening by Government spokesman and Principal Secretary Planning, Development and Monitoring Department Rohit Kansal.
Without mentioning the upcoming holy month of Ramzan which is due to start in next few days, Kansal said: “All religious, thought leaders and influencers have been making continuous and repeated appeals to the people to avoid gatherings including religious gathering.”
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Urging the people to pay heed to religious leaders and influencers, the Government spokesman said the gatherings literally serve as oxygen for spread of the virus.
“The gatherings are prohibited and must be avoided at all costs including the religious gatherings,” Kansal said.
He quoted a report which stated that Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala are the two State/Union Territory which have succeeded in slowing down spread of the virus.
He added that all this has primarily been made possible due to cooperation of people in enforcing lockdown, effective social distancing and pro-active and aggressive contact tracings, leading to early detection of asymptomatic cases.
“Rate of doubling of positive cases of Coronavirus has slowed down in Jammu and Kashmir. The time it takes to double cases in the UT is probably highest in the entire country,” the Government spokesman said.
Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir was among the first to have own testing facilities, he said the facility was 50 tests a day when it started and yesterday the Health authorities conducted 700 tests in J&K.
“Shortly, we will be conducting more than 1000 tests per day. We are trying to add more laboratories for conducting (COVID-19) tests. We are getting more manpower, machines, automatic machines and will also decentralize sample collection in the districts,” he added.
He said testing rate in Jammu and Kashmir has increased to 703 per million, which is second highest in the country while it initially was 77.5 per million.
Kansal said a number of COVID-19 positive patients have also recovered.
“Yesterday, we had 368 Corona cases and, of them, 292 were active while today we have 380 cases, an increase of 12, but active cases stand at 294. While we have 12 new cases, at the same time, there were 10 recoveries,” he added.
The Government has, meanwhile, removed Udhampur district from the `Hotspot category’ as in the past few days, just one positive case has been reported from there. On the other, three positive cases of Narsoo, Chenani, had recovered yesterday and were discharged from the Gandhi Nagar COVID hospital.
Now, there were five `Hotspot’ districts in J&K which included Bandipora, Baramulla, Kupwara, Srinagar and Jammu. These districts account for more than four-fifth (80 percent) of the cases in the Union Territory, Kansal said.
He announced launch of a unique App in Jammu and Kashmir named ‘Swasthya Nidhi COVID-19 Health Audit App’ for monitoring the households under surveillance on real time basis and effectively monitor the health status of enlisted individuals. A pilot project of the App has already started in Jammu district, Kansa said, adding J&K was also encouraging use of Aarogya Setu App. So farm more than 6.5 lakh users have installed the App in the UT.
Meanwhile, a truck cleaner from village Chan Khatrian in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district, who had reached the village from Maharashtra, a State hit badly by Coronavirus pandemic, was tested positive for COVID-19 today taking tally of Corona patients in Jammu region to 56 and active cases to 38 with 17 recoveries and one death.
With this, Kathua has become fifth district to be affected by Coronavirus.
The 37 year old truck cleaner, hailing from village Chan Khatrian in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district had confined himself into a cattle shed and didn’t come into contact with the family after reaching his house in the truck from Mumbai on April 17. However, he rode on a scooter of his friend to Sub District Hospital in Hiranagar a day before for voluntary testing and was referred to the GMC Jammu.
He tested positive today.
Deputy Commissioner Kathua OP Bhagat said the contact tracing of the truck cleaner are on including the person who had taken him to SDH Hiranagar on scooter.
His family and other contacts are being sent for quarantine while the patient has been referred to the Chest Diseases Hospital, Jammu. He was asymptomatic.
This was the first COVID-19 positive case in Kathua district, which has now become fifth district in Jammu region to be affected by Coronavirus. Previous cases in the region belonged to Jammu, Udhampur, Samba and Rajouri districts. However, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Reasi and Poonch are still Corona-free.
With this, total number of Coronavirus cases in Jammu region have gone up to 56 while number of active cases was 38 as 17 positive patients have been treated and discharged while there was one death.
Meanwhile, Kansal said: “Our strategy of aggressive tracing and increased testing will continue.” He informed the UT has received the first tranche of 24,000 kits for undertaking the rapid COVID testing in the community. This along with already established procedure will be used for more and more testing.
Divulging further, he said 92 areas have been designated as Red Zones in the UT- 14 in Jammu Division and 78 in Kashmir Division. He said that these Red Zones will be under strict restrictions, extra surveillance and enhanced testing.
“We are conscious that this is an inconvenient process and people in Red Zones, Hotspots and Containment areas do face difficulties” he said and that the administration and the health department are ensuring that the inconvenience is minimized.
Kansal said “while we do believe a strict lockdown, a robust tracing process, aggressive testing and strict protocols have led to identification of even asymptomatic cases, stamping out of many chains and a slowed growth it is important to emphasize that there is no room for complacency. We are dealing with a dangerous enemy and we need to be alert and watchful.”
Simrandeep Singh, Administrative Secretary, Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction; Dr Syed Sehrish Asgar, Director Information and Public Relations; and Bhupinder Kumar, Director NHM were present in the press conference.


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