Govt allows limited number of pilgrims with registration

Woman among 2 die of Corona in Jammu

*MC president, GMC doc, 3 SMVDSB staffers among 137 +ve

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Aug 11: The Government today issued the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for opening of religious places in Jammu and Kashmir from August 16 restricting number of pilgrims to the shrines prohibiting touching of statue, idols or holy books and large gatherings even as two more persons including a woman were killed due to Coronavirus in Jammu region while 137 persons tested positive and 149 others were treated and discharged from the hospitals.

J&K Govt issues SOP for the opening of religious places
Today’s positives include president of a Municipal Committee in Rajouri district, another doctor in Surgery Department of the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu, three employees of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), a BSF Inspector and one Northern Army dispatcher in Udhampur, five CRPF personnel in Reasi, one Government teacher and another employee of Chenab Textile Mills (CTM) in Kathua, a Jammu and Kashmir Bank employee in Gangyal, 3 Rashtriya Rifles personnel and three shopkeepers in Poonch, two constables from DPL in Ramban and three CRPF and two police jawans in Samba district.
In the Union Territory of Ladakh, 53 more Corona cases were reported today including 25 in Leh and 28 in Kargil taking total Corona cases to 1770 and active to 506.
A 62-year-old woman from Resham Ghar Colony who was admitted to the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu on August 9 with multiple problems and tested positive for COVID-19 the next day died this morning.
She remained on oxygen throughout her hospitalization period, GMC Medical Superintendent Dr Dara Singh said, adding that the body was handed over to the family after packing under due COVID protocol for cremation.
A 57-year-old man from Patel Bazaar in Pacca Danga area was brought dead to the hospital and subsequently tested positive for the virus.
With these two deaths, Corona related deaths in Jammu region have gone up to 37 and that of Jammu district to 26. Other casualties have been reported from Rajouri (3), two each in Udhampur and Doda and one each in Ramban, Kathua, Samba and Poonch districts.
More than 50 percent of COVID-19 cases in the Jammu region were reported from Jammu district. While the region’s tally today stood at 137, Jammu district alone accounted for 72 including 30 who had no travel history.
The SOP issued by the Government this evening said major shrines like Mata Vaishno Devi, Shiv Khori, Charar-e-Sharief, Hazratbal, Nangali Sahab and Shahdara Sharief etc where devotees visit from all parts of the country will be required to take special precautions. These shrines will be permitted only for a limited number of devotees from outside J&K.
“Only registered devotees, subject to an upper limit to be decided by the Trusts and Boards manning affairs of the shrine, will be allowed in consultations with concerned District Magistrates,” as per the SOP.
The Government has asked the organizations managing religious institutions to ensure that persons above 60 years of age, with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below 10 years don’t visit the shrines.
“The devotees will maintain distance of 6 feet from each other even in the queues, will wear face covers/masks and wash hands with soap before entering the premises. Only asymptomatic persons will be allowed entry into the shrines,” the SOP said.
The Government has empowered the District Magistrates to ensure compliance of the instructions pertaining to opening of religious shrines which were closed in March following imposition of lockdown.
The Government has banned touching of statues, idols or holy books etc in the religious places by the pilgrims and large congregational gatherings inside the premises of shrines allowing only individual prayers till further orders.
“Physical offerings like sprinkling of holy water, Prasad etc shouldn’t be allowed. Premises of the shrines will be sanitized regularly as per timing fixed by the management committees, the visitors will be staggered to prevent crowding, installation and use of Aarogya Setu App will be mandatory for all visitors, common prayer mats will not be used while community kitchens, langars, Bhojnalayas and food could should be allowed to function subject to norms of physical distances,” the SOP said.
It added that in case of suspect or confirmed COVID case in the premises, the person will be isolated and sent to nearest Health facility under COVID protocol.
Meanwhile, three SMVDSB employees including an Assistant Security Officer and a `bhajani’ (bhaint singer) were tested positive for the virus at Bhawan and one official in Samba district.
Yet another Post Graduate student in Surgery Department of the GMC Jammu, hailing from Bantalab, tested positive today. He was the third PG student in Surgery Department to test positive during last five days.
In Jammu district, Corona positive cases were also reported from Gadigarh, Subash Nagar, Bantalab, Miran Sahib, Sarwal, Gangyal, Ghari Domana, Resham Ghar, Gandhi Nagar, Nagrota, Muthi, Shakti Nagar, Janipur, Akhnoor and Parade Ground.
The police parties from Gangyal police station led by SHO Inspector Raghubir Choudhary sealed Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch at Gangyal after an employee was tested positive there.
A number of para-military personnel also tested positive for the virus in Jammu district.
Fourteen persons reported positive for COVID-19 in Poonch district today, SSP Poonch Ramesh Angral told the Excelsior.
They include three Army personnel of 16 Rashtritya Rifles Surankote and three shopkeepers. Besides, a police constable from the District Police Lines (DPL), a BSF jawan of 183 battalion and a pregnant woman from Khanetar also tested positive in Poonch. Other positives of the district were contacts of Corona patients.
Eleven Corona positive cases were reported from Reasi district today including five CRPF personnel of 6th battalion, two police constables, a 16-year-old girl from Bagga Badora and three travelers.
Gran Morh in Reasi was today declared as Containment Zone by the district administration after a Corona positive case was reported from there.
Kathua district reported 10 Corona positives cases including a worker of Chenab Textile Mills (CTM), a Government teacher from Lakhanpur and two persons from Ward No. 7 and Bijit Hatli.
Three other positives of Kathua district were travelers and contacts of positive persons, Deputy Commissioner OP Bhagat said.
A BSF Inspector was among seven persons who tested Corona positive in Udhampur district. Two other positives including a 21-year-old girl and 54-year-old man hailing from Bharat Nagar and a 70-year-old woman from near Raj Theatre.
A dispatcher in Northern Army and a youth from Domail with travel history of Noida were also infected by the virus in Udhampur district.
Seven cases have been reported in Samba district for the virus today.
They include three CRPF and two police personnel and an inhabitant of Uttar Pradesh who was putting up at Bari Brahamana.
President of a Municipal Committee in Rajouri district and a man from Dhangri with travel history of Uttar Pradesh were positives of Rajouri district, SSP Chandan Kohli said, adding two other travelers also reported Corona positive in the district.
Of six positives in Ramban district, two were police constables from DPL, one employee of a private Railways company and three others who were tested during random sampling in non Red Zones.
Five persons including four travelers and one contact of positive person, all of whom were under quarantine, reported positive for the virus in Kishtwar district while two persons, one of them a shopkeeper and another who was subjected to random sampling tested positive for COVID-19 in Doda district.
A total of 149 Corona patients were today discharged from various COVID hospitals in the Jammu region after testing negative for the virus.
The highest number of 62 patients were treated in Jammu district, 24 in Ramban, 16 Udhampur. 12 Kathua, 9 each in Reasi and Doda, 6 Rajouri, 5 Samba, 4 Kishtwar and 2 in Poonch district.
Jammu region’s Corona tally now stands at 5846 including 1804 active cases as 4005 patients have been treated and discharged from the hospitals while there have been 37 casualties.

5000 yatris per day, Equines not allowed
The Government has fixed a ceiling of maximum 5000 pilgrims per day till September 30 for Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage. Of 5000, only 500 pilgrims per day will be permitted in graded manner from outside Jammu and Kashmir.
The pilgrims will be registered only through on-line mode, the SOP issued by the Government said.
The pilgrims coming from outside J&K will be subjected to compulsory COVID-19 antigen testing. They will be allowed to proceed to Katra only after testing negative. Pilgrims from Red Zone districts of J&K will also be tested and allowed to move ahead after testing negative.
Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) facilities at multiple locations at start of yatra will be set up to identify potential carrier of infection. The frontline Shrine Board staff and service providers will also be subjected to testing at regular intervals.
The SOP called for highest level of cleaning and sanitization protocol for sanctum sanctorum including holy cave.
“The pilgrims will be staggered in such a manner that the main Bhawan area doesn’t have more than 600 persons including pilgrims, security personnel and other service providers at any given time,” according to the SOP.
It said there will be optimum use of all yatra routes to ensure maximum staggering and physical distancing. There will also be sufficient physical distancing inside the caves for good ventilation.
Pilgrims will not be encouraged to stay at the Bhawan after darshan. For this, linen and blanket facility will not be allowed.
Use of Equines will not be allowed till further orders.
There will be provision of dedicated facilities for isolation and quarantine purposes.