Go for aggressive testing
As the COVID 19 has brought entire world down on the knees with scientists struggling to find some cure or some vaccine to the deadly disease, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir continues to surpass the most populous states of India in the count of positive cases. Till date, J&K has 565 positive coronavirus cases while as 08 such patients have already died. The tally, if compared with other states of the country, is higher than many states which are, otherwise, very high population-wise. According to the data available, Bihar having a population of approximately 12 crore had only 345 COVID 19 cases till April 27. Similarly Karnataka with a population of 6.6 crore had 512 confirmed cases while as Assam which has a population of 3.5 crore had 36 positive cases while as J&K with a population of 1.35 crorers has already 565 positive cases. It follows the top 11 highly infected states of India.
Fortunately people of Jammu and Kashmir, by and large, cooperated with the administration and ensured the success of lockdown. People understood that there is no other way to save own lives and lives of others other than following the guidelines and staying at homes and maintaining social distance. Though there is no alternative to regressive lockdown, its economic costs too are to be taken into consideration. One would expect the concerned authorities to take full advantage of lockdown and go for aggressive testing. As rightly pointed out by a prominent doctor of Kashmir, “The more you test the better the health dividends of the lockdown. If we do not go for aggressive testing, the economic and social costs of the lockdown shall go down the drain.” For a population of 1.35 crore the UT, till 28 April, had conducted 16619 tests out of which 16054 samples have tested as negative. The figures indicate that the testing does not match the magnitude of the pandemic and is far below the optimal. The official record suggests that right now 68262 travellers and persons in contact with suspected cases have been enlisted for surveillance. The government should at least conduct the tests of all these persons under surveillance to help identify the carriers and prevent the spread of the disease. Aggressive testing is the only option to contain the disease. UT administration has to understand that if infections are not detected in time and prevented from spreading, given J&K’s modicum health care infrastructure, the administration may not be able to handle the pandemic.