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Second Covid wave: Kashmir doctors say no to lockdown, yes to vaccination

File Photo: KM/Umar Ganie

Srinagar: Second COVID notwithstanding, health experts have ruled out the need for another lockdown and emphasized on ramping up vaccination drive in Kashmir.

“You hear people saying, ‘We’re heading into a second wave,’ [but] it may well be part of an ongoing reservoir of infection. In order for the first wave to be over, the number of positive Covid-19 infections would have to reach low single digits. After that, a “second wave” would occur when the virus returns or when a new resistant strain of the virus develops,” Dr. Tariq Tramboo, Pain Medicine Specialist told The Kashmir Monitor.

With Ramadan around the corner, the valley is witnessing a surge in infections. In the last 24 hours, J&K reported over 195 fresh Covid-19 cases taking the total number to 129031.

Dr. Tariq said what matters is the spread and how many people are getting sick. “Viral spread can be prevented only if we learn lessons from the past.  The threat of a second wave is very serious and could cost people their lives and economic well-being. If everybody just had a mask on we would dramatically cut transmission,” he said.

At the same time, vaccination has not been happening at the pace needed in order to achieve its target, as per the reports. Two months into the programme, India has met 7% of its target to administer 50 crore doses by July. It must administer 36.5 lakh shots per day to achieve this target.

Official figures from last week revealed that 4.9 lakh people including healthcare workers, frontline workers, and citizens above 60 years of age had been inoculated in Jammu and Kashmir so far.

Health experts recommended ‘Covishield’ which has 76 percent efficacy against the virus. “This percentage is well enough for us to achieve herd immunity. Most of the time vaccine counters here are idle & waiting for people. This can have disastrous consequences. Further, I will like to request the administrators to avoid gatherings (schools, functions, etc) till at least our 60% of the population gets vaccinated,” Dr. Tariq said.

Health experts said a system must be put in place to check the case surge and identify the clustering of cases in a particular area. “Those areas should be mapped using GIS and hot spots should be identified,” a Community Health Specialist, Government Medical College, Srinagar said.

He said the health facilities must be geared up keeping in view the caseload. “Also, follow the algorithm of 3T….trace, test and treat should be repeated as in the 1st wave, and vaccination against Covid needs to be expedited and more and more population needs to be vaccinated,” the expert said.

President Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) Dr. Suhail Naik said the virus can undergo genetic mutations throughout this pandemic. .

“There is no doubt about the vaccine availability, but the virus can undergo genetic mutations throughout this pandemic. So the virus will grow stronger and weaker on and off. Over a period of time, a large number of people will develop immunity,” Dr. Naik said.

He, however, said the people have to religiously follow the basic Covid precautions including wearing face masks, hand washing, social distancing.

“Following these three protocols is the only way ahead. Otherwise, we will again see hospital beds getting filled up, and the government will be compelled to reinforce its restrictions, which will be invariably mandatory that time,” Dr. Naik said.

DAK president stressed that lockdown is not required at the moment. “The numbers of cases are still under control, and the situation can be managed if people don’t lower their guard against the virus,” he said