Aggressive tracing and testing to continue: Kansal

Aggressive tracing and testing to continue: Kansal

JAMMU:Principal Secretary Planning, Information and government spokesperson, Rohit Kansal on Wednesday said that there are 62 positive cases of COVID 19 in J&K.

Giving breakup of the figures at a press briefing, Kansal said 58 are active cases of which 48 are in Kashmir and 10 in Jammu division. “A total of 17041 cases are under surveillance so far. This is a dynamic process and while some cases who complete their period are being released for home quarantine, newer cases keep getting added as per contact tracing results,” he said.

Kansal said that government is conscious that there has been concern among the public at large about the cases being tested positive. “However we would like to emphasize we have a robust tracing process. Many of the positive cases could be traced as a result of a vigorous contact tracing exercise undertaken by the administration. As a result we were able to trace many cases including some that were asymptomatic. This is important because if not traced these cases could have continued in the general population and could even have infected more cases,” he said while adding that the government will actively pursue this strategy.

The government spokesperson said that nearly 2000 contacts of positive cases have been identified. “We have issued instructions that no known contact be left untraced. I had mentioned last time that this is bound to lead to some inconvenience. Hot spots would need to be isolated and sealed and movements fully restricted,” he said while appealing people for their cooperation in this exercise. “Believe me, it is worth the trouble and effort. Every single case detected and traced means so many more have been prevented from being infected.”

Kansal revealed that Jammu and Kashmir has also been testing cases aggressively and it was among the first to start testing locally through 4 testing centres. “Our testing rate has been nearly 77.5 per million, one of the highest in the country and next only to Kerala. We have decided to further increase it. To begin with, we plan to test every single one of the 2000 contacts that we have identified,” he said.

The government spokesperson said that the strategy of aggressive tracing and increased testing will continue. He said that in order to achieve the concerned authorities have well defined protocols for quarantine, isolation and restrictions on movement. “In defining protocols we have often gone beyond what is being followed in some other states; however this has been carefully planned. Wherever we have been deliberately stricter, it is because we firmly believe that it is better to be strict and firm initially than dealing with a large pool of infections at a later stage,” he said.

Kansal repeated that there are 11 exclusive COVID 19 hospitals, an administrative quarantine facility of over 35000 beds and 2400 earmarked treatment beds in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with any kind of situation. He said that the health department has also started upgrading its manpower and equipment. “It has started reengagement of retired professionals, consultants and will use every possible mechanism to ensure that there is no shortage of manpower. Similarly, it is procuring all essential material including masks, PPEs and ventilators,” he said.

The Government spokesperson said that the government is aware that there are a large number of citizens and residents who need support and assistance of various kinds. These include patients, students, migrant labour and other citizens. He assured that adequate arrangements have been made for each group of people and the Resident Commission in Delhi has established a dedicated 24X7 helpline centre to assist students, patients or any other residents of J&K facing difficulties due to the lockdown. He said that over 2800 calls have so been received so far on these numbers. “ Similarly help lines have been set up for labour and migrants both interstate Migrant labourers in J&K and migrant labourers of J&K stranded in various parts of the country (nearly 11000). Over 300 calls have been received so far,” he said. “An amount of Rs. 1000 per registered construction worker was approved by the Govt on 25-03-2020. An amount of Rs. 11.915 crore has been disbursed till date among 119150 active registered workers,” he said.

Kansal said that an advisory has been issued to all the employers of Public/Private Shops Establishments, Industrial Establishments, Factories, Mines, Projects and Contractors etc. in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to not terminate, particularly casual or contractual workers from job or reduce their wages due to the ongoing situation.

He said that the process of distribution of advance ration for April and May has begun and nearly 1.31 lakh qtl of foodgrains have been distributed so far. To help the destitute, slum dwellers and migrant labour, he said that ration packets containing essential edibles are being prepared and supplied through the DCs and urban local bodies.

Kansal said that the position of supplies as on date is normal. “In order to maintain the supply line of all essential commodities, medicines, baby foods and other items, special arrangements have been made across the UT of J&K and especially at Lakhanpur. Since the beginning of the lockdown upto 8 Am today morning 3483 trucks carrying essential goods containing fruit &vegetables(1114), Ration/food grains(1003), Milk(141), Eggs (138), Medicines (108), LPG (307), POL (94) etc. have entered J&K from Lakhanpur. In order to ensure uninterrupted farming and agricultural activities, Cattle feed/fodders (234 trucks), Fertilisers (19 trucks) and Polutry/sheep have also been allowed. On an average, 800 trucks of essential supplies are entering J&K through Lakhanpur (Kathua) in 24 hours,” he said while giving details.

Kansal said that a facilitation centre at Lakhanpur entry point, manned by a senior interdepartmental team and a 24×7 Control Room have been set up at Lakhanpur for facilitating movement of trucks carrying essential supplies to UT of J&K.

Regarding distribution of Masks and Sanitizers to public servants on duty Kansal said that Lieutenant Governor has directed the department of FCS&CA to create stocks of Masks and Sanitizers for distribution among various public servants on duty and all residents of areas identified as hot spots or red spots. “We have accordingly placed orders for nearly 4 lakh masks and 1.60 lakh sanitizers. We have already distributed 90000 masks and 6000 sanitisers to various essential service departments such as power, PHE, police etc,” he said.

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