Coronavirus pandemic: J&K, Ladakh face inadequate testing facilities; shortage of masks, sanitisers

As India is scrambling to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, its two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh – are struggling to have enough facility to test samples for the disease in the hospitals and are also short of supply of face masks, Firstpost has reported.

As preventive measures, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has ordered the closure of primary schools and Anganwadi centres. It is shutting down cinema halls across the region till March 31.

The Ladakh administration has also banned large public gatherings and has ordered the closure of all educational institutes, said the report.

There have been at least 1,000 people who are believed to be at risk of coronavirus infection as they have returned to India from foreign countries, said the report, adding that they have been asked not to venture out of their houses.

As many as 942 people have been kept under home quarantine, SM Kadri – J&K’s nodal officer for coronavirus – told the publication.

Meanwhile, several doctors have blamed the government for delaying the test of samples and not making masks and sanitisers available in hospitals, the report said.

There is only one operational testing facility at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura. Another facility is reportedly expected to be operational at Government Medical College (GMC) in Srinagar in the next two to three days.

Before the facility in Soura was set up, swab samples of suspects were sent to AIIMS in Delhi and NIV in Pune, delaying the results, officials told the publication.

Balvinder Singh, the president of the Doctors Association Jammu, was reportedly transferred Udhampur to Batote in Ramban district after he had flagged the issue of inadequate supply of masks and sanitisers, said the report. In talks with the publication, he termed the government’s response to the disease as ‘pathetic’.

Confirmed cases of novel coronavirus have reached 60 in India, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has said. However, as per state health officials, the number of confirmed cases may be up to 65.

(With inputs from PTI)

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