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COVID crisis: 113 non-local labourers test positive in Kashmir

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Srinagar: As many as 113 non-local labourers, who arrived in Kashmir in the last one week, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, K K Sidha told The Kashmir Monitor that they have collected 14,937 samples of non-local labourers as of July 21 noon among which 113 labourers have tested positive.

 

“All positive cases have been placed under quarantine by the respective districts,” Sidha said.

As per officials, majority of these infected labourers were working on brick kilns in Budgam district right after they reached Kashmir.

Chief Medical Officer, Budgam, Dr Tajamul Hussain said that “71 labourers have tested positive in the district so far.”

“They have been sent to COVID care centres located in Arizal and Watrihal areas,” the CMO said.

Non-local labourers testing positive is another challenge for Kashmir healthcare system which is already struggling by the recent surge in COVID-19 among the valley populace.

As reported by The Kashmir Monitor, 60 to 70 buses carrying around 2000 to 2500 labourers have been arriving in Kashmir since July 14.

Majority of these labourers are from Bihar (27, 455 Covid-19 cases), Uttar Pradesh (nearly 50,000 cases), and Punjab (over 10,000 cases).

Before entering Kashmir, officials claims that all of them are sampled at the Qazigund toll post in Anantnag district.

The results of 12990 samples were still pending till Monday evening. As per government figures, 1012 samples for coronavirus testing were collected from the arriving labourers on July 14, 2227 on July 15, 2099 on July 16, 2350 on July 17, 2893 on July 18, 2000 on July 19, and 1421 on July 20.

All these labourers are being brought back in hoards by the brick kiln owners in Kashmir who arrange their transport and stay in poorly facilitated shacks right near the brick kilns.

As per the guidelines issued by the Jammu and Kashmir government, all the passengers coming to J&K by train, air or road are supposed to remain under institutional quarantine for 14 days after being tested for coronavirus.

However, these labourers arriving in Kashmir do not undergo any institutional quarantine as they are transported directly to brick kilns where they begin their work right away.

Heath experts in Kashmir warn that health infrastructure in Kashmir is already overburdened and overstretched.

“Symptomatic moderate to sick COVID pneumonia cases are increasing which is taking a toll on non-COVID patients because day by day wards are converted into COVID wards therefore days are not far when both COVID and non-COVID mortality will increase,” said a health expert wishing anonymity.

He said that the situation will turn worse and health structure may crumble if the movement of non-locals is not restricted.