Explainer: COVID-19 containment efforts in J&K
Who has the time to fight Coronavirus in Kashmir when we are too busy fighting each other. Everyone, including me, is complaining about certain things going wrong and there is no one in sight who may come forward with some explainers. COVID-19 has struck a chord around the world, uniting all factions and above all altering the course of humanity. That doesn’t seem to be the case with us. A lot of people in Kashmir are yet to decide on putting the congregational prayers on hold because there is no visible scope for consensus on the matter. Many of those entering Kashmir with foreign travel history are either managing to avoid the Coronavirus screening at the airport or they are refusing to go under quarantine.
Here’s a major lesson from the pandemic: If we take a look at the trajectories of Coronavirus cases across the globe, nations like Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong have limited the spread by adhering to “Advisories and Instructions” that include strict quarantine rules, contact tracing, school closures and community responses. If we follow these “Advisories and Instructions”, we’re halfway there. We have already made collective strides towards the COVID-19 containment efforts as the last two days of restrictions across Kashmir went well.
There’s more to this than meets the eye
There are concerning reports about some influential fliers managing to bypass the screening process at the Srinagar airport and the same cannot be brushed under the carpet. This is a matter of life and death. In this connection, the administration on Friday invoked the Disaster Management Act 2005 under which those who are found hiding their travel history/avoiding screening/facilitating exits will be held guilty of culpable homicide. For starters, those who have facilitated exits at the Srinagar airport in the recent past should not be exempted from this punishment. There is a dangerous precedent being set if they go unpunished.
In Kashmir, a lot of things are happening for the first time. Now when we are in the midst of a serious health crisis, our health-related concerns have come to life after a very long sleep. I don’t remember when was the last time people of Jammu and Kashmir raised their voice against the underfunded and ailing health care system. We have such a huge potential for organizing coordinated protests but we never tried to channelize this potential to achieve the developmental goals.
There are some armchair health experts and activists who are raising an alarm about the “crippling” health care sector of J&K. They have gone to greater lengths to explain the point that health care facilities in J&K are not prepared to handle the Covid-19 crisis. But they will never tell us how we got here. They will never tell us that the crisis of health sector was always staring us in the face but we never really cared. These people have been very much successful in scaring us because they know the level of our negligence towards our own health sector.
Before blaming others for anything, we are supposed to ask ourselves what we are doing, or thinking to do, about this pandemic. Let’s share the stories of our individual COVID-19 containment efforts and set a precedent for others. Also, the situation we are in today offers a lot of lessons for the future. For me, the lesson would be this: We need good governance and good political leadership before “anything else”. Now we have an overwhelming proof.
The author can be reached at Akeelsofi@gmail.com