Principal Secretary, Planning, Development & Monitoring and Information Rohit Kansal on Tuesday said that rapid testing and effective control measures in J&K have helped reduce the rate of growth of coronavirus leading to decrease in doubling rate.
Rohit Kansal, who is also the Govt Spokesperson, was addressing a press conference here, whereat he gave an overall update about the COVID situation in the Union Territory.
He said that the testing rate in J&K has been increased to 703 per million, which is second highest in the country, while initially it was 77.5 per million.
“We were one of the first to have our own testing facilities. Since then we have been continuously ramping up our facilities. From a testing capacity of 50 tests a day, the number of samples tested yesterday was more than 700” Kansal informed and added that the capacity will be shortly braced up to 1000 tests per day in our four ICMR accredited labs.
“We are enhancing testing capacities in these labs as well and shortly adding two more labs. We are maintaining supply chains of essential reagents and are adding more and advanced equipment and manpower” he told the media. He further informed that decentralised sample collection centres have also been set up in the districts.
“Our strategy of aggressive tracing and increased testing will continue,” he said and informed that the UT has received the first tranche of 24,000 kits for undertaking the rapid COVID testing This along with the already established procedure will be used for more and more testing.
Reiterating that there is certainly a case for some respite, he said as of this moment, the total number of positive cases in J&K is 380 of which the number of active cases is 294, including 256 in the Kashmir Division and 38 in the Jammu division. One active case has been reported from Kathua district today.
“As you are already aware, there have been 81 recoveries which include young children and we also have had 5 unfortunate deaths” he said and added that 60,000 (Sixty thousand) persons have been enlisted for surveillance out of which nearly 35,000 (Thirty-five thousand) have completed the mandatory 28 days period of surveillance.
Briefing on control measures, he said, based on the results and number of active cases and other parameters, five districts namely Bandipore, Baramulla, Kupwara, Srinagar and Jammu have been identified as hotspot districts in the UT.
“We do release district wise details of cases and you are all aware that taken together, these districts account for more than four-fifth (80%) of the cases in the UT” he informed.
Divulging further, he said 92 areas have been designated as Red Zones in the UT- 14 in Jammu Division and 78 in Kashmir Division. He said that these Red Zones will be under strict restrictions, extra surveillance and enhanced testing.
“We are conscious that this is an inconvenient process and people in Red Zones, Hot Spots and Containment areas do face difficulties” he said adding that the administration and the health department are ensuring that the inconvenience is minimized.
He said “while we do believe a strict lockdown, a robust tracing process, aggressive testing and strict protocols have led to identification of even asymptomatic cases, but for stamping out of many spread chains and a slowed infection growth it is important to emphasize that there is no room for complacency. We are dealing with a dangerous invisible enemy and we need to be alert and watchful.”
Giving further details, he said that the strategy of aggressive tracing and increased testing will continue. “We will further strengthen our surveillance system and procedure. We are launching a unique app Swasthya Nidhi COVID-19 Health Audit App for monitoring the households under surveillance on real time basis and effectively monitor the health status of the enlisted individuals.
A pilot project has already been started in Jammu District. We are strongly encouraging the use of Aarogya Setu App. So far, more than 6.5 lakh users have installed the App in the UT,” he added.
He said that J&K was among the first in the country to be alert to the problem. “We had probably the most effective and strict protocols even at the cost of some inconvenience. We feel that a bit of convenience can always be sacrificed to achieve a larger goal. This is where we need your support,” he added.
He also expressed gratitude for the willing support received from all citizens. “I would request for your continued cooperation. I would also strongly urge all of you to trust the department’s judgment whenever some zones are being designated as red zones” he appealed people and said that this is being done strictly as per technical assessment and probability of cases.
“Our self restraint and discipline must continue. We should go out only if we must. Use of masks has been made mandatory for everyone going out. 1.20 crore masks are being made in J&K. Every member of a priority or AAY household will get one free of cost. Others will get it at a subsidy. Please use it”, he said and appealed the people to follow all other advisories issued from time to time adding that there was no room for complacency.
For ensuring social distancing, he said that the religious leaders and others have been making appeals to avoid all religious gatherings and people must heed them as the gatherings literally serve as oxygen for the spread of the virus. They are prohibited and are to be avoided at all costs, he said.
Meanwhile, he also gave details regarding supplies of consumables and Goods, and said the supply of essential commodities and other goods is normal.
He informed that in the last 24 hours, over 1000 trucks including 340 trucks of fruit and vegetables and 325 trucks of rations entered J&K. The availability position is comfortable in both Jammu and Kashmir divisions, he added.
In order to facilitate essential supplies, important industries, he said detailed guidelines in tune with and in the spirit of MHA directions have already been issued. “Detailed SoPs have been framed and mechanisms for permissions, passes etc. formulated and streamlined” he told the reporters.
Regarding welfare measures, he said the same announced by the LG from time to time and by the GoI under the PMGKY are also under implementation.
“Nearly Rs 100 crore has been released by UT administration to the DCs and various departments. To just quote, nearly 2.20 lakh destitute, labourers and other across 1245 camps are being supported across J&K” he informed. Similarly, nearly 10 lakh qtl of food grains as advance rations of April and May already stand distributed among card holders, he added.
Distribution of free ration under PMGKY as well as pulses has also started, he said and added that the Labour Department has transferred over Rs 15 crore to nearly 1.5 lakh registered construction workers.
Listing other measures he said, “Over 30000 private sector employees will benefit under PMGKY Scheme. Free ration has been provided for families of nearly 8 lakh children under MDM, besides Rs. 15 crore are being transferred as cooking charges.”
“Similarly 8.5 lakh Jan Dhan account holders have benefitted under PMGKY, while 12.5 lakh beneficiaries are getting benefit of free gas cylinder refills and Rs. 183 cr. pending payments to MGNREGA workers have been released by RDD,” he added. He further said that the Helplines have been set up by the Resident Commissioner at New Delhi, Labour Department, Divisional and Deputy Commissioners and various departments.
Kansal thanked everyone associated in fight against coronavirus, be it health and police personnel, sanitation workers, media fraternity, people engaged in providing essential services, and general public. He also urged every citizen to follow a seven-point special appeal made by Prime Minister to help expedite the fight against coronavirus which included to take care of the elderly, follow social distancing, follow AYUSH Ministry guidelines on improving immunity, download Aarogya Setu app, help the poor, compassion for employees and respect frontline workers.
Administrative Secretary, Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, Simrandeep Singh; Director Information and Public Relations, Dr. Syed Sehrish Asgar and Director NHM, Bhupinder Kumar were present on the occasion.