Inside Kashmir

Strict restrictions continue in Kashmir; no significant dip in fresh COVID-19 cases

Srinagar: Strict restrictions continued for the fourth successive week on Sunday even as there was no significant dip in the number of fresh coronavirus cases in Kashmir valley, where ‘COVID curfew’ remained imposed from April 29 to curtail the spread of the deadly infection.

Even though the spread of COVID-19 has dipped significantly in Srinagar, which still remains the highest contributor to the infection tally, the simultaneous rise in fresh cases across other districts in the valley is sustaining the spike.

Barring Shopian, the number of fresh COVID-19 cases recorded everyday in the rest of the districts of the valley has remained in three digits, indicating that the virus has spread to villages and far-flung areas.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday extended the COVID curfew, which was supposed to end on May 23, by another week till May 31 in all 20 districts of the Union Territory amid no letup in the number of fresh coronavirus cases and deaths.

This is the fourth successive extension of COVID curfew since April 29 in the valley, where the vaccination drive has picked up after severe criticism over non-availability of jabs for several weeks. The extension has come in the backdrop of no letup in the number of COVID-19 cases in J&K, particularly Kashmir division.

However, ignoring personal safety, besides appeals by ulmas and religious scholars to adhere to COVID curfew imposed to break the chain, people continue to hit the streets in the valley, where thousands of violators have been fined and arrested while hundreds of vehicles have been seized since April 29.

A heavy rush of people was again witnessed in the morning on the roads, besides outside banks and ATMs in the city and other parts of the valley, where police had to intervene and sent them back to their homes. Later, streets again wore a deserted look while shops and business establishments were closed and traffic was off the roads in the valley, including Srinagar.

Standalone shops — selling fruits, vegetables, grocery, milk and other dairy products — have been allowed to function between 0600 hrs and 1000 hrs every day amid strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, including ensuring social distancing in Srinagar and other districts in the valley. However, many shops and business establishments were open in some areas in uptown Srinagar, including Mehjoor Nagar, Nowgam and Ikhrajpora, after 1000 hrs.

All the roads and market places, including Lal Chowk, the 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.

As many as 3408 new positive cases, including 2157 from Kashmir and 1251 from Jammu, were on Saturday reported in the Union Territory. Forty eight people, including 18 from Kashmir and 30 from Jammu, lost their lives to the infection on Saturday.

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