SRINAGAR: The Union Home Secretary, Ajay Kumar Bhalla, today chaired a high-level meeting to review the management of the COVID-19 pandemic across all Union territories.
Chief Secretary, Jammu & Kashmir B V R Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretaries of all Union territories, and Union Secretaries of the concerned departments participated in the meeting.
The Union Home Secretary cautioned the UTs on the successive surges and asked them to remain vigilant to the situation. Advising the UTs to learn from their experiences, the Home Secretary asked them to keep pace with testing and vaccination rates, besides enforcing COVID appropriate behaviour and strengthening the medical infrastructure.
At the outset, Union Secretary, Health and Family Welfare gave a presentation on prevailing situation in the UTs. It was mentioned that J&K is performing reasonably well in mitigating the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic with 3,946 cases per million population being reported over the last two weeks and 62 deaths per million during the same period.
Giving a brief of the measures being taken in J&K to contain the spread of COVID, the Chief Secretary informed that the Government has enhanced both testing and vaccination capacities. “The early detection of infection has allowed for timely medical intervention, whereas vaccination was found to reduce the severity of disease in patients – both strategies have been successful in restricting COVID-related fatalities in the UT”, he added. Currently, Jammu and Kashmir is among the leading regions in the country in vaccination of above 45 years age group having vaccinated 66% of its eligible population which is well above the national average of 32%. Within J&K, 4 districts- Ganderbal, Jammu, Samba, and Shopian, have achieved100% coverage in this category, while the remaining continue with promising progress. To pace up vaccination in 18-45 age category, it was requested that Jammu and Kashmir be provided with a sustained supply of vaccines in the coming months.
Further, the Chief Secretary informed that through Government’s timely response, the daily number of COVID cases has reduced from an all-time high of 5500 to 2200 in two weeks. The same period also witnessed a reduction in the case positivity rate from 13% to 6.2%. It was highlighted that the districts having higher vaccination rates reported lower positivity rates, thus establishing a correlation between vaccination and success of containment measures.
Underscoring the shift of disease’s catchment area, the Chief Secretary pointed out that in Jammu and Kashmir more cases are now being reported from rural than urban areas, adding that such cases are as high as 55% and 60% in Jammu and Kashmir divisions, respectively.
Regarding augmentation of medical infrastructure and facilities in the Union territory, it was informed that the Government has recently adopted a strategy to establish 5-bedded COVID care facilities with at least 1 oxygen supported bed at approximately 4000 Panchayats to provide immediate medical care to the COVID patients who can then be referred to higher-level facilities in case of emergency. Additionally, 33000 COVID care medical kits have been distributed for usage by patients in home isolation.
It was announced that the twin 500-bedded temporary hospitals being established by the Defence Research and Development Organization will commence operations at Jammu from tomorrow and at Srinagar from 1st July, thereby greatly reinforcing COVID dedicated medical infrastructure in the Union territory. The Chief Secretary requested that to establish continuous oxygen supply to these facilities, two dedicated oxygen tankers for these hospitals be provided to Jammu and Kashmir.
It was further requested that considering the rural spread of the disease, two 250-bedded DRDO designed hospitals be additionally approved for peripheral districts.
The Union Home Secretary lauded the efforts of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir in mitigating the spread of COVID infections especially the rollout of targeted vaccination drives. He assured full support and coordination with regard to vaccines and assistance with medical facilities, and asserted greater indulgence with well-performing States and Union territories.