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Stop public gatherings

The recent resurgence of coronavirus cases across India including Jammu and Kashmir has rung alarm bells within the administration here. The surge in cases has been exponential to the point that many states are thinking of implementing fresh lockdowns. Maharashtra is the worst-hit state which reported over 40,000 cases in a day this Sunday. Summer capital Srinagar is one of 46 hotspot districts in the country showing exponential rise in COVID-19 cases. On Sunday, Jammu and Kashmir reported 309 fresh cases of coronavirus, the highest spike this year clearly pointing towards a new wave of the pandemic in the erstwhile state. According to the official data, Srinagar recorded 123 cases, while Baramulla in the north reported 46 cases. Jammu on the other hand recorded 49 cases.  The overall tally in the country reached 12,039,644 on Monday after 68,020 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, according to Union health ministry data. The country recorded 291 fresh fatalities in the same time period, which took the death toll to 161,843. The health ministry data also showed that 11,355,993 patients have so far been discharged. The worrying aspect is the active cases, which again crossed the half a million mark. The active case count now stands at 5,21,808. In just the past week, the country has added more than 178,000 active cases to its tally, the highest ever in the country for any week since the start of the outbreak in March last year. Active cases – those still under treatment – is a crucial metric because it directly reflects the pressure on the health care system in a region as well as provides the number of people who are currently carrying the virus. The health ministry has said that eight states and union territories have been leading the surge in Covid-19 cases in the country. In Jammu and Kashmir, while the administration claims it is ready to deal with any eventuality and has asked people to strictly follow all SOPs, one wonders why it allows gathering of thousands of people in public and recreational parks. On Sunday, thousands of people were seen flocking the Badamwari park in Srinagar, many without masks and openly flouting COVID-19 guidelines. Doctors have already flagged such behaviour and are beseeching people to avoid public gatherings. It is suggested that for now gathering of people in public parks and tourist spots should be stopped or at least limited to avoid huge gatherings. One may understand the gravity of the situation from the fact that even the Srinagar Jama Masjid administration has decided not to hold congregational prayers in Shab-e-Baraat as a bid to avoid spreading of the virus. The government must take strong measures to stop huge public gatherings and make people follow the SOPs to avoid making the situation any worse than it already is.