Internet suspension hits contact tracing for coronavirus in Kashmir

SRINAGAR: The frequent suspension of mobile internet services has been hitting contact tracing for coronavirus in Kashmir.

To contain COVID-19, Kashmir administration has devised an App to regulate the movement of incoming students and labourers after entering in Kashmir.

“Government has devised an App which shall regulate the movement of the incoming students/ labourers etc after landing in Kashmir. Since the number of these incoming students/labourers is huge and cannot be put to the institution/administration quarantine and shall be put to home quarantine,” reads a government document.

An official said the App was to monitor the movement of people entering Kashmir. “This App was to help the government to track the movement of every person to ensure they remain either administrative or home quarantine. But the suspension of the internet is hitting to operate the App,” an official told news agency KINS.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K. Pole as per the document has directed that Director Health Services Kashmir to establish a separate home quarantine desk which shall share the information with regard to the incoming students, with PRIs/Aishas/ surveillance teams well before one day of the travel of these persons so that necessary steps are taken for the surveillance/ monitoring.

“DHSK shall ensure 100 percent sampling of the persons coming to the valley from outside UT and in this connection shall formulate 30 additional sampling teams. After the declaration of the testing results, positive persons shall be hospitalized and negative persons shall be sent to home quarantine immediately where they shall be put to surveillance by the teams already constituted,” the document reads.

“The shutting down of the internet is not new to Kashmir. But amid COVID-19, this is affecting our work badly. We are not able to send messages on Whatsapp to send each about cases and communicate with patients,” a doctor at SKIMS Soura said.

It was also impossible for Kashmiris to install the government’s contact-tracing App that Prime Minister Narendra Modi said everyone in the country should download onto their phones in a televised address last month.

On May 6, authorities suspended the internet. After which they issued a statement which says the shutdown on May 6, implemented the day after security forces killed militant commander Riyaz Niakoo in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, was necessary due to the “likelihood of misuse of data services by anti-national elements””. Now for the last three days, mobile internet is shut in Srinagar after killing of Junaid Sehrai. (KINS) 

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