Srinagar: Restrictions were intensified in view of Jummatul Vida, the last Friday of holy month of Ramazan, in the Kashmir valley, where ‘COVID curfew’ imposed by administration to curtail the unabated rise in the number of fresh Coronavirus cases and death entered day eight today.
However, essential services were exempted from the lockdown in the valley, where security force vehicles were making announcements, directing people to stay indoors and offer Friday prayers in their respective houses.
Majority of the mosques, including historic Jamia Masjid, Hazratbal shrine, which houses the Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad, and other shrine, remained closed in view of lockdown.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration earlier this week extended the ongoing ‘corona curfew’ for the third successive time since April 29 in four districts, including Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam and Jammu till May 10.
Barring Shopian, the lockdown was extended by the respective Deputy Commissioners of other districts in the valley as there was no letup in the number of fresh COVID cases and deaths. The Union Territory on Thursday hit another grim milestone with a record single-day spike of 4,926 Covid-19 infections and 52 deaths.
Meanwhile, asserting that the double mutant strain of Coronavirus is highly infectious, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar Head of Department, Community Medicine, Dr Mohammad Salim Khan has appealed to the people to stay indoors and strictly adhere to the guidelines to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Salim, who is one of the leading preventive medicine experts of J&K, said that the mutant strain is infecting whole families and even children are getting affected, adding N440K has been found in Kashmir division which spreads ten times faster. “Both vaccines available in India, Covishield and Covaxin, are safe and rumours about side effects like vaccine causing infertility among women are false. Vaccines provide protection to a large extent and people need to take both doses as per the prescribed timelines,” he added.
The extension in the lockdown in the valley has come in the backdrop of unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Kashmir, particularly the summer capital, Srinagar, which has recorded the major chunk of positive cases during the last about 26 days.
Srinagar alone, out of 4,926 new Covid-19 cases in J&K, reported 1070 cases on Thursday, while Budgam recorded 605 cases, followed by Baramulla with 353 cases, Anantnag 314 cases, Kulgam with 218 cases, Pulwama with 171 cases, Shopian with 170 cases, Ganderbal with 126 cases and Kupwara with 124 cases. Only one district in Kashmir – Bandipora – has recorded fresh COVID case in double digit.
Majority of the people remained confined to their homes even as streets continued to wear a deserted look on Friday while shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the roads in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley, where security forces have closed majority of the roads with barbed wires and barricades to stop the movement of people. But, reports of violation of lockdown were coming from some areas in the city.
The administration had allowed grocery shops, milk and dairy product shops, fruit and vegetable mandi, bakery and meat shops to function between 0900 hrs and 1800 hrs even during the lockdown. Chemist shops, LPG/petrol pumps, ATM, media, FCI, e-Commerce, construction activities, Covid-19 vaccination, inter-state movement were also allowed during the lockdown. But, reports coming from many parts of the city alleged that grocery, milk, vegetable and fruit shops were allowed to function only in the morning hours.
All the roads and market places, including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, remained sealed to prevent movement of people. Shops and businesses established were closed while all the roads were deserted as traffic and people were off the roads in downtown, civil lines, uptown in Srinagar. But, people with emergency or associated with essential services, including doctors and paramedics, were allowed to move on the roads after proper verification at various checkpoints established by police.