Restrictions remain in force in Kashmir, sampling of coronavirus suspects increased

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SRINAGAR: Healthcare professionals have increased scientific sampling and testing of coronavirus suspects across Kashmir region which has seen a surge in cases of the virus.

A total of 14 new cases of COVID-19 positive were detected in Kashmir on Sunday, raising the total number of positive cases in the union territory to 106.

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While two patients have died, four have recovered while another seven have tested negative after undergoing treatment. These patients will undergo another test before they will be discharged from the hospital.

Health authorities here said the Jammu and Kashmir Government has established COVID-19 hospitals which are working round-the-clock and performing sample testing swiftly.

Director, Health Services Kashmir, Dr Samir Mattoo said the Government established eight hospitals in Kashmir and three in Jammu — exclusively for COVID-19 cases.

“All our eight COVID-19 hospitals are performing well and we have been able to reach out to the people with some sort of relief amid this healthcare crisis,” Dr Mattoo said, adding “we have also directed our staff to remain on 24X7 shifts for any exigency”.

He said the Government has taken a slew of measures in terms of screening of people particularly inbound travellers, surveillance and quarantine, isolation of suspects and is continuously monitoring the situation on a minute-to-minute basis.

He said the healthcare professionals have been able to increase the scientific sampling and testing of suspects across Kashmir region.

“Earlier, we were able to collect 70 samples, now we go for up to 150 a day. We are also waiting for some equipment and important reagents from ICMR. We have so far got seven sophisticated machines for testing and we will be again procuring few more,” he said.

Meanwhile, strict restrictions on the movement of people in Kashmir to contain the spread of coronavirus remained in force on Monday.

Security forces sealed off the main roads in the valley and erected barriers at several places to check the unwanted movement of the people and to enforce the lockdown, the officials said.

The markets across the valley were shut and public transport was off the roads with only pharmacies and groceries allowed to open, they added.

Educational institutions across Kashmir have been closed, while all public places including gymnasiums, parks, clubs and restaurants have been shut down more than a week before the nationwide lock down announced by the Prime Minister.

While the Prime Minister announced the country-wide lockdown on the evening of March 24, the union territory administration here had on March 22 announced a lockdown across Jammu and Kashmir till 31 March as part of its efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The administration said essential services including healthcare personnel have been exempted from the restrictions.

Restrictions were first imposed in many parts of the valley on March 19 to contain the spread of the virus infection. The measures were taken after a 67-year-old woman from Khanyar area of the city, who had returned on 16 March from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah, tested positive for COVID-19 infection.