More than a month after the first positive case of Covid-19 surfaced in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Territory received its first batch of rapid testing kits on Saturday. Dispatched by the Centre, of the total 12,000 kits, 9,000 have been earmarked for Kashmir and 3,000 for the Jammu region, reported The Indian Express.
Until now, testing was limited to high-risk contacts of the identified positive cases. However, “the rapid test kits will help expand testing in areas designated as red zones,” The Indian Express quoted Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo as saying.
About 1,000 kits will be sent to every red-zone in the UT to enhance testing. There are currently 90 red zones in the UT, of which 76 are in the Valley. The kits, that are expected to arrive every week, will be used to test individuals starting from the nucleus of each red zone and then expanding outward in the periphery. These will also be used to test the frontline health workers.
As per an SOP for red zones issued on April 14, the administration has 100 per cent survey and screening of all persons within the red zone. As per officials, “as more kits arrive, the area of testing will also be increased.”
Srinagar, Bandipora and Baramulla districts in Kashmir have the highest number of cases in the region so far. Together, they hold 168 of the total 281 ‘active’ positive cases, as of Friday.
Srinagar, with the highest number of positive cases, 78 of which 65 are currently active, has been testing high-risk contacts until now, through the nine RT-PCR machines available in Kashmir.
“For these 78 cases, we have traced 1,018 contacts and tested even the asymptomatic cases. About 96 per cent of these have tested negative. With the rapid kits, we will increase testing starting with the red zones and then expanding this to other zones,” The Indian Express quoted Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary as having aid.
Similarly, for other districts as well, kits will be provided for the testing in red zones first and then expanded to other areas.