Srinagar: For the five months of the administration’s fight against Covid-19, more than four months have been under tight lockdown, yet the number of cases and deaths is only skyrocketing in Srinagar.
It essentially means that the lockdown is not working, said a senior pulmonary doctor, wishing not be named because of the government’s gag order that forbids doctors from talking to the media about Covid-19.
According to him, the government’s preferred method of fighting the virus, which is the lockdown, has only made things worse.
Another doctor, involved in the medical fight against Covid, said that most of the hospitals in Kashmir are working at nearly full capacity. He also said that not enough tests are being done in the region.
“The testing rate, which was less than 50 during the initial days, is still less than 4,000 a day, at least 2,000 tests short of what is required. This is despite the fact that only the symptomatic cases are being tested,” he said.
“While there was a lockdown, the government was supposed to ramp up everything required. It did not happen,” the doctor added. “At the same time, the consequences of the lockdown worsened the living conditions of people. They have gone beyond their threshold of suffering now.”
According to the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), the economic losses of the Covid lockdown are about Rs 10,000 crore in Kashmir. As the economy remains shut, thousands of people working in the private sector have lost jobs. Scores of daily-wage vendors are without work, the transport sector is badly affected, and traders are bleeding losses.
President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Sheikh Ashiq said that there is no support from the government. He said that the government’s offer of Rs 1,000 a month to the affected was worse than a pittance, insufficient for even daily expenses.
The administration has also not paid a penny to hotels which were used for quarantining of suspected cases and their contacts in the initial days.
The senior pulmonologist told Kashmir Reader that the time has come to lift the lockdown, and in its place enforce standard operating procedures for resuming life under Covid-19.
“It will take time, but it will work. For how long will the ineffective lockdown continue? I have seen more people wearing masks now, though the number is still not enough, and maintaining social distance and washing hands. The government should enforce these SOPs effectively. It will help people live with the virus, get it under control, and ease the all-round suffering,” the doctor said.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir PK Pole told Kashmir Reader that lifting the lockdown would be like “jumping over barbed wires.”
“You lift it, the cases go up, you impose it again. The weaker sections get affected the most. We are thinking of finding a way. In Srinagar alone, about Rs 11 lakh rupees have been collected as fine for violating SOPs. People just need to cooperate with SOPs,” Pole said.