JK COVID-19 situation challenging as cases rising steadily, but no need to panic: UT admin

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Jammu, Apr 21 (PTI) The Jammu and Kashmir administration Wednesday said the COVID-19 situation in the Union Territory is 'challenging' with cases rising steadily, but there is no need to panic as there is no dearth of facilities including oxygen beds and required medicines.

It also advised eligible people to go for vaccination and adopt COVID-appropriate behaviour to help the government defeat the virus.

'We have a steady increase in COVID cases that reached a peak in September last year touching 22,000 active cases which later went down to 600 active cases. We are again seeing a sharp increase and the peaks of September last year have been breached,” Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal told reporters here.

He said the government is trying its best to control the situation without going into a complete lockdown.

He said the government is monitoring the situation and has taken various steps like placing certain restrictions while ensuring that economic activity is not impacted.

Kansal was joined by Financial Commissioner, health and medical education, Atal Dulloo and Secretary, Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Department, Simrandeep Singh, Dulloo said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is challenging because the COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising.

'We have 13,400 active cases till date. Last year, the maximum of 22,000 active cases were in September,' he said, adding the recovery rate in Jammu and Kashmir stands at 89.6 percent, while the mortality rate has been 1.38 percent since the outbreak of the pandemic.

In April this year, 77 deaths have taken place while the positivity has reached 2.5 percent which is more than the cumulative positivity of last year, he said.

The positivity on Tuesday was 5.2 percent, Dulloo said.

'We are following the five pillar strategy to deal with the situation -- testing, containment and surveillance, isolation and treatment, covid-appropriate behavior and vaccination,' he said.

He said Jammu and Kashmir is conducting 40,000 tests daily -- 10,000 RT-PCR ones and 30,000 RAT (Rapid-Antigen Test) ones -- and its average stands at 2,500 tests per million per day.

'The RT-PCR testing facility is available in all government medical colleges (GMC) hospitals. We are further augmenting the facilities and have installed a newly acquired machine at Soura medical institutions, while another one is on its way and will be installed at GMC Jammu and another requisitioned for GMC Srinagar,' he said.

He said so far, 68.33 lakh tests have been conducted, while 1.64 lakh contacts of positive cases were traced this month. As many as 120 locations were declared containment zones, where 32,000 tests were conducted, leading to the detection of 1,680 positive cases, he said.

'We have earmarked 6000 beds for the COVID patients in dedicated hospitals and our rate of occupancy at present stands at 13 percent.

'There is no dearth of oxygen-supported beds and in the next few weeks, we will be adding 2,000 more oxygen-supported beds after commissioning of oxygen plants in 23 hospitals, out of total 36 hospitals where the facility is being installed,' he said.

Dulloo said more hospitals would be converted into COVID hospitals to deal with any emergency.

He also said the vaccination drive progressing smoothly and so far 17.50 lakh doses were administered to the people of eligible categories.

'We have covered 74 percent healthcare workers, 77.5 percent frontline workers and 36.76 percent of the population over the age of 45 years. The response of the public is encouraging,' he said, adding there are two lakh doses available and no shortage of drugs anywhere.

He said there are presently 1,608 vaccination centres operating in the Union Territory which would be enhanced to 3,000 to ensure people get their doses next to their homes.

'We have the capacity to vaccinate two lakh people in a day,' he said, adding the government would take a decision whether the 18-plus population would get the vaccine free.

As far as 45-plus population is concerned, Kansal said Jammu district has done well by covering 60 percent of the population category, followed by 52 percent in Ganderbal and Baramulla.

“We have a target to complete this category by next month,” he said.

Responding to a question on RT-PCR method reportedly failing to detect new variants of the virus, Dalloo said 'It is a challenge and we have no solution right now.' 'We have 28 confirmed cases of UK variants in Jammu and none in Kashmir,' he said.

He said emergency surgeries, cancer treatment and trauma cases are being attended to in all hospitals. PTI TAS AB TIR TIR