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Unprecedented!

Editorial CAITLYN SAMPLEY AGGIE


Life has come full circle. We are back to square one and even slipping beyond it when it comes to the crisis of COVID-19 which is hitting back at us with full vengeance. Every other hour, shocking reports of people dying due to the virus and hundreds of thousands contracting the infection afresh in India are mind boggling to say the least. In Jammu and Kashmir too, the situation seems to be fast slipping away. On Sunday, the Union Territory witnessed over 1500 new cases and six more fatalities, the highest numbers of this year. The entire India is rattled as hospitals are overflowing with patients and hearses carrying dead bodies are lining up at burial and funeral homes. Considering the grim situation, J&K Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha Sunday chaired a high-level meeting to review the Covid-19 situation and took some major decisions in the direction of containment and control efforts for mitigating the spread of the virus in the UT. After a detailed discussion, the decision was taken to keep all Universities and Colleges in J&K closed for imparting on-campus education to the students till 15th May. The government asked the colleges to move to online teaching mode. Meanwhile, all schools in J&K have been asked to continue to remain closed till 15th May. In view of the surge in the cases, public gatherings are being restricted and it was decided that the ceiling on the number of people permitted to attend gatherings shall be 20 in case of funerals; 50 for all kinds of gatherings at indoor venues and 100 for all kinds of gatherings at outdoor venues. The Lt Governor passed the necessary directions for strict enforcement of the existing guideline for compulsory testing of all incoming passengers to J&K. All passengers or travellers coming to J&K, whether by rail, road or air, will have to compulsorily undergo a COVID-19 antigen test through any of the prescribed methods as per the protocol of the J&K Government. The Lt Governor directed all District Magistrates to put in place an effective mechanism to ensure COVID appropriate behaviour in all crowded markets, shopping complexes and Malls, besides taking stern action against the violators. The Lt Governor also called for taking market associations on board in the fight against coronavirus by encouraging them to voluntarily stagger opening timings and schedules of the business establishments to reduce crowds. All these decisions are a must if we need to have some control over this wave. However, at the same time, it is the people who need to realise the gravity of the situation and strictly conform to the SOPs that have been laid down by the authorities. People should mandatorily use masks and avoid public gatherings. In mosques and other religious places, social distancing must be followed. As research has suggested, houses must have cross ventilation to ensure that fresh air keeps on circulating since the virus, according to a Lancet study, is airborne. One hopes that this new strain of the virus peaks by the end of this month and we have some saner days after that. This is not the time to relax. It is the time to remain vigilant and make sure that our behaviour reflects our responsibility.