Shopian: Despite being declared a Red Zone and sealed from all sides, Hirpora area in Shopian district was observing the lockdown more in the breach, until Wednesday, when 14 more residents tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
In recent days, at least two persons had escaped from Hirpora before a non-local labourer managed to sneak out and reach home in Rajouri, where he was tested positive of the disease.
Locals had also resumed construction work of different structures and there was undisturbed movement of vehicles carrying sand, gravel, boulders and furniture meant for construction of houses and other structures. All this was going on when the district had reported a hike in number of Covid-109 cases, which stands at 46 now.
A resident of Chitragam village said that a person managed to reach his home in Chitragam from Hirpora after staying there for many days. “He stayed at home for two days and after that all of the family members were quarantined at a government accommodation,” he said.
Another person escaped from Hirpora red zone and reached Kennigam and then travelled back to Hirpora. The entire family was quarantined after news reached health officials.
Despite the rise in cases, people were following neither the lockdown nor health care guidelines. “A number of tractors transporting excavated sand and boulders from Rambiara rivulet are operating in the day as well as night without any hindrance either from authorities or from the locals,” a person who lives near the rivulet told Kashmir Reader.
According to doctors, after the labourer who managed to reach Rajori was found positive there, at least three families in Shopian villages have been quarantined. The laxity also shows the carless attitude of locals who hire non-local labourers to work in orchards and homes.
Before the lockdown, 17 men who had returned to Hirpora after attending a religious gathering in Maharashtra were let go home by the health authorities. They stayed for 18 hours at their homes before they were brought back to the government’s quarantine accommodation.
According to official data, four among the 17 men were found positive of coronavirus after they were quarantined and tested.
One of these men told Kashmir Reader that when they went to hospital for check-up, “They told us, you are fine, go home and stay in isolation.”
That these men spread infection in Hirpora is now evident from the rise in number of cases from the village. Thirty of their contacts, mostly family members, have been found positive.
Locals said that if the 17 men had not been told to go home, there would have been only four cases from the village.
Officials dealing with containing the spread of Covid-19 are tight-lipped, which is further aggravating the problem. Nodal officer for Covid-19 for district Shopian, Dr Ruqaya, said that the reason for rise in number of cases in Hirpora village is being verified. When asked how people are escaping from the red zone, she said, “We can’t put a watch on every door. People must know the importance of lockdown and of following the advisory.”
She added that locals should inform the authorities about anyone escaping from the red zone area.
Six persons from Shopian district have so far recovered from Covid-19.