Budgam: Novel coronavirus cases have witnessed a steep spike in central Kashmir’s Budgam district in the past one month, more so since the second week of September. The district has risen two notches up in terms of the overall tally to emerge as the second-worst COVID-19 hit district in Kashmir after Srinagar.
Health officials in the district, however, are apparently not too worried. They attribute the spike in cases to aggressive testing initiated lately and on negligence of people towards maintaining social distancing and wearing face masks.
What also provides officials some relief is the fact that the fatality rate of Covid-19 infected persons has improved by over 0.25 percent in the past one month, as per official data.
On August 15, Budgam stood at the fourth spot in terms of number of Covid-19 cases, after Srinagar, Baramulla and Pulwama districts. It then had 1,754 total cases and 38 deaths, which meant a fatality rate of 2.17 percent. There were 506 active cases in the district at the time.
In the subsequent weeks, the district witnessed a steady spike in coronavirus cases, reporting some 45 odd cases on average daily, till the end of the first week of September.
Since September 8, there has been a sudden shoot-up of Covid-19 cases, with the district reporting as many as 190 cases on Thursday, September 10, as per the government’s media bulletin.
In the next three days, the district reported 176, 123 and 158 cases, respectively. The district now finds itself as the second-worst Covid-19 hit district in Kashmir in terms of overall tally.
On Monday, though, the district witnessed a considerable dip in cases when it reported only 78 of them.
Also, as of now, the fatality rate in the district has come down by 0.27 percent, with 73 deaths having taken place among a total of 3,819 cases, as per the official data.
Officials say that the sudden rise in cases is because of “aggressive” testing initiated by the authorities in recent days, and due to people’s negligence in following the necessary precautions.
Chief Medical Officer Budgam, Dr Tajamul Hussain Khan, told Kashmir Reader that till the end of May, sampling tests were done only at the district headquarters while at the block level, only symptomatic people were tested on a rotational basis.
Since June, he said, the testing has been scaled up manifold and people are now tested in all the blocks.
On the sudden rise in cases since the second week of September, a health official said that it was because Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT), which provides instant results, had been started precisely from the said date, besides the usual RT-CPR (Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests, the results of which are confirmed by SKIMS Soura.
The official further explained the reason for the sudden spike in cases, saying that earlier there used to be a delay of RT-CPR test results from SKIMS Soura, which discouraged people from turning up to volunteer for sampling.
Also, the recent change in quarantine guidelines, wherein majority of the populace has been recommended home quarantine, has also led to an increase in testing, the official said.
Another official associated with Covid-19 sampling and documentation told Kashmir Reader that recent religious gatherings in the district have led to a spike in number of cases.
As per the official, of the 190 Covid-19 cases reported in the district on September 10, majority of the cases were people who had participated in a religious gathering.
CMO Dr Khan informed that 600-700 RAT tests are carried out on a daily basis in Budgam district apart from about 300 tests through RT-CPR mode.
He further said that they had notified “micro-containment zones” in the district in order to contain the disease more effectively. The micro containment zones are apart from the 58 Red Zones and 28 Buffer Zones already notified across the district.
The CMO also rued the negligence of people towards following precautionary measures, which he said was among the reasons why Covid-19 was spreading in the district.