Ensure availability of vaccines
There is no let-up in Covid-19 cases and virus related deaths in Jammu and Kashmir and while Srinagar is leading in the tally of daily positive cases, Jammu tops the numbers in fatalities. The situation almost all the districts of the Union Territory is far from normal as every day both positive cases and deaths are being related. The authorities have already extended the Covid restrictions in four most effected districts – Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam and Jammu and also Reasi has been added to the list. The restrictions have been announced with the sole aim of keeping people safe and stopping the widespread of the deadly virus. As repeatedly stressed in this column, Covid-19 restrictions are not some law and order related curfew but a step to ensure that the citizens don’t catch the infection and remain safe. It is therefore mandatory for the public to respect the restrictions and follow the prescribed guidelines. People have to curtail their movement and stay at home unless it is extremely necessary to come out. Even in that case, they are expected to wear face masks, maintain social distancing and follow hand hygiene guidelines. As some scientists are the opinion that the virus is airborne and doesn’t need some infected person to cough and sneeze to spread it, face mask is mandatory at all times. People succeeded to break the curve of first phase of Covid spread by adhering to restrictions and set SOPs but unfortunately became complacent afterwards. The complacency has cost the entire country hugely. Though the people alone are not to be blamed as governments, all over the country, also misread the situation and thus became negligent shutting eyes to huge crowds – be those religious, political, tourism or sports related or social. This negligence allowed the Covid-19 ample space to spread its tentacles and grip the entire nation.
Let bygones be bygones. Fact of the matter is that the virus is spreading dangerously and the only counter to it, besides SOPs, available to us at the moment is vaccination. The governments, all over India, have decided to launch massive vaccination drive for all the citizens above 18 years and Jammu and Kashmir government too is following the suit. As a big relief to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the Lt Governor administration has decided that Covid-19 vaccination will be administered free of cost for people aged between 18-45 years as the cost will be borne fully by the J&K government. While controversies all over the country have erupted over the pricing of the vaccines, there is no such issue facing Jammu and Kashmir following administrations decision. Vaccination is the only tool at the moment that has the potential to break the curve of the deadly Covid-19 surge and save the lives of people. Therefore people in Kashmir need to shun vaccine hesitancy and come forward to take the jab. It is heartening to note that religious scholars and leaders in Kashmir have been on the forefront to educate the people about Covid protocols and also the vaccination. The stand taken by the religious scholars is appreciable and should be hailed by one and all. In the times of crisis, people look towards religious leaders for guidance and thankfully Muslim religious leaders in Kashmir have conveyed in no-nonsense terms that they believe in reason and logic and are not at war with science. However, the availability of the vaccine is the prime responsibility of the Lt Governor administration. We have been given to understand by the UT authorities that there is no shortage of vaccines. This assurance need to be transformed into reality on the ground. The administration should ensure that every citizen in the UT above 18 years of age gets vaccinated and the process to do so need to be geared up. The virus is on the killing spree, let the administration put its act together to ensure that there is no shortage of vaccine and the process is completed in a record time.