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Strike a balance between ailing economy and battle against pandemic: Altaf Bukhari

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SRINAGAR, June 11: Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Thursday stressed on the government to go for sustained awareness campaigns for removing social stigma and ways of combating the spread of COVID pandemic in Jammu and Kashmir.

“For striking a balance between an ailing economy and tackling the pandemic, the government of J&K should simultaneously fight the shame associated with this disease which compels the people to conceal their symptoms,” Bukhari said in a statement issued today.

Bukhari said that there are multiple instances wherein people fled quarantine facilities and isolation wards at hospitals, creating an arduous task for authorities who were forced to retrace them and also the people they have interacted with.

“As we stand at the threshold of fighting a highly contagious virus, we cannot import western models of health communication and apply them blindly in our context. We need to take our socio-cultural factors into account while formulating campaigns to fight COVID-19,” he stressed.

Bukhari said the concerns about social stigma often influence decisions about the health issues in this part of the world. “This needs to be changed. To fight a virus at this scale, people need to beat stigma and social ostracisation at every level. The government must come forward in this regard to help the people through vast public awareness,” he demanded.

“If the government allows business units and markets to function we need to identify ways in which social distancing can be practiced in congested localities and communicate those to the public. Similarly, it’s not enough to emphasise that people should not panic as grocery shops will remain open during the lockdown. It’s also important to find a way in which essential commodities can be delivered to people who cannot leave their homes during the lockdown,” he added.

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