Aggressive vaccination drive is needed
The Union Territory administration has ordered closure of all educational institutions in Jammu and Kashmir till May 15 in the wake of dangerous surge in Covid-19 cases and virus related deaths. Though painful, the decision was inevitable as the pandemic, in its second phase, has shown more intensity and the entire country is in the grip of the surge. The health infrastructure is failing people; there are no beds available for the infected and most of the hospitals are facing shortage of oxygen. Thankfully Kashmir is not in such a crisis, as on today, but if appropriate steps are not taken well in time, we may be face to face with a disaster beyond control. Through these columns we have repeatedly been asking people not to underestimate the nefarious threat posed by coronavirus and to take all necessary precautions. Wearing face masks and maintaining social distance is what ultimately is going to check the naked dance of the virus. However, of late, people had turned somewhat complacent and lowered their guard. That happened all over the country and also in Kashmir. To add insult to the injuries, the UT administration too did err thus giving an excuse to the people not to adhere to the set Covid SOPs. Badamwari Mela, Tulip Festival, Khelo India were some of the events that encouraged people to throw precautions to the winds. Agreed that the administration was doing so to bring the almost dead tourism industry back on rails but at what cost? If holding of such events was really very necessary, why the administration failed to ensure that ample Covid related precautions were taken during the process. In rest of the country also the state governments as well the Central government erred on different accounts. Political rallies, religious and social gatherings were indirectly encouraged thus giving the coronavirus a field day to target people all over.
Now that the second wave of Covid-19 has gripped the entire country dangerously, time is that instead of indulging in blame games steps, both at national as well as regional levels are taken to save peoples’ lives. Fortunately India is in possession of the vaccine but unfortunately the vaccination drive has not been upto the mark. Given the size and population of the country, the Indian government should have prioritized the vaccination of own population before extending help to other countries. That didn’t happen and the result is that only a miniscule of the population has got vaccinated till date. The union government needs to pull up its socks, mobilize all its resources, men and machinery and launch an aggressive vaccination drive. The UT government of Jammu and Kashmir too should prioritize the vaccination of the populace and ensure that the vaccines are available here in ample numbers. People can’t be blamed for everything, they are coming forward for vaccination and almost all the political, religious and social leaders have played their role in encouraging people to get a jab. It is government’s responsibility to accelerate the process and ensure the availability of requisite doses. That said, people have to understand that battle against the Covid-19 is on. The vaccination should not make them complacent. Vaccination or no vaccinations, the basic SOPs– wearing of face masks, social distancing and hand hygiene are to be followed in letter and spirit.