Jammu and Kashmir authorities demarcate 90 'red zones' to contain coronavirus; areas to remain under strict lockdown
The administration has demarcated 90 red zones across Jammu and Kashmir as on 14 April, according to the Department of Information and Public Relations.
Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have issued fresh guidelines on dealing with the novel coronavirus in the Union Territory. The guidelines include stamping coronavirus patients and sealing of zones that report a high number of cases.
The guidelines note that if cases rise, doctors may not have the time to carry out contact tracing. They recommend the creation of separate teams for contact tracing, so that doctors can focus on medical work.
The administration has demarcated 90 red zones across Jammu and Kashmir as on 14 April, according to the Department of Information and Public Relations. These red zones will be under a 100 percent lockdown and will be completely sealed.
At these zones, authorities have erected iron barricades, evoking angry at some places. Several people have accused the police of committing excesses while enforcing the lockdown.
Some of the guidelines that have been a part of the standard operating procedure (SOP) are rather baffling. For instance, movement of patients requiring emergency treatment will only be allowed if permission is issued by the sub-divisional magistrate/tehsildar and the emergency is certified by the block medical officer. Such patients, as well as their attendants, will be red stamped. For "other emergencies", the permission of the executive magistrate will be needed to travel out of a red zone. The SOP does not clarify the meaning of "other emergencies."
The guidelines further state that identification of the red zones would require an intelligent demarcation of boundaries using roads and natural barriers. Entry and exit points of the red zones will be marked by stickers, and police personnel will be present.
The guidelines also note that community participation is necessary to raise awareness about the novel coronavirus. They state that the authorites should create a "database of influencers in the village like religious leaders, government servants, panchayat raj institution (PRI) members and utilise them in spreading awareness and ensuring total lockdown."
The guidelines also say that the deputy commissioner will make arrangements in cases of pregnant women or people needing dialysis. However, it is not clear how these arrangements will be made.
Meanwhile, authorities have suspended routine health care services in public hospitals.
Although authorities have said that health workers will deliver essential commodities to people, locals said "there was no such arrangement in place."
Abdul Rehman Malik, a farmer from Soibugh in Budgam, one of the red zones, said, "The police recently baton-charged people who had gone to a ration store to fetch some rice and flour."
Fayaz Bakshi, activist and businessman, said, "A proper strategy needs to be put in place to tackle the disease. How will we overcome it if frontline staff like healthcare and municipal workers get beaten up? The government has already shut Out Patient Department (OPD) services in hospitals. Arbitrary restrictions on the movement of people will only throw a spanner in our fight against the disease."
Samir Matoo, Director of Health Services, Kashmir said the red zones have been demarcated to ensure that coronavirus cases do not spread. "We will also conduct large-scale testing in affected areas," he said.
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