Restrictions tightened in Kashmir in view of Friday prayers

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SRINAGAR: Restrictions on the movement and assembly of people in Kashmir to contain the spread of coronavirus were tightened on Friday in view of congregational prayers, officials said.

The congregational prayers were not held at most mosques of the valley last Friday as various religious organisations appealed the people to offer prayers at home.

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Main roads in the valley have been sealed off and barriers erected at several places by security forces to check the unwanted movement of the people and to enforce the lockdown on Friday, 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 said.

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 lockdown 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.

The officials said the authorities have started an aggressive contact tracing campaign across the union territory to contain the spread of the infection.

Nearly 2000 contacts of positive cases have been identified, they said, adding no known contact would be left untraced.

The total number of positive cases in Jammu and Kashmir has gone up to 70. Of these, 53 cases were detected in Kashmir and 17 in Jammu division.

While two patients have died, three patients have recovered from the disease, leaving 65 active cases.

The total number of positive cases in the union territory has gone up to 62, which includes 50 cases in the valley.

Two patients – both from the valley — have succumbed, while two – one each Kashmir and Jammu — have recovered.