Srinagar, May 17 (UNI) Majority of the people remained confined to their homes as strict restrictions continued for the 19th successive day on Monday following extension of ‘COVID curfew’ till May 24 to curtail the spread of the virus in Kashmir valley, though traffic jams were witnessed at some places in the summer capital, Srinagar.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday extended the ‘COVID curfew’ by another week till May 24 in all 20 districts in the Union Territory though essential services were exempted from the lockdown.
This was the fourth successive extension of COVID curfew in the valley since April 29. The development comes in the backdrop of unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in J&K, particularly the summer capital, Srinagar, which has recorded the major chunk of positive cases during the last over a month.
Meanwhile, after witnessing major shortage of vaccines, Jammu and Kashmir’s daily COVID-19 testing has dipped by about 21 per cent between May 9 and May 16 while the average positive cases in a day during this time have remained above 10 per cent in the Union Territory.
The Union Territory between May 9 and May 13 recorded a daily average of 42,994 tests while the daily average fell between May 14 and May 16 to 33,935 tests, resulting in a dip of 21 per cent in the average testing rate.
Even though heavy rush of people was witnessed in the morning on the roads, besides outside banks and ATMs, police intervened and sent them back to their homes.
Later, streets again wore a deserted look while shops and business establishments were closed in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley. 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.
Traffic jams were witnessed in some areas in uptown Srinagar, including near Jahangir Chowk, where security forces were allowing only people associated with essential services to move ahead.
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.
Reports of similar restrictions were coming from other parts of the valley, including Sopore, Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara in north and Shopian, Anantnag, Pulwama and Kulgam in south Kashmir. Shops and business establishment were closed and road wore a deserted look in these districts, where police parties were patrolling their respective areas to ensure strict implementation of the lockdown.
Business and other activities remained crippled in central Kashmir districts of Budgam and Ganderbal, where roads have been closed with barbed wires in most parts to prevent movement of vehicles and people.
On April 29, the Jammu and Kashmir administration imposed curfew in 11 districts to curtail the spread of COVID-19, which was subsequently extended to all the 20 districts in the Union Territory the next day. The curfew that was supposed to end on May 3 was extended in Srinagar, Budgam, Baramulla and Jammu till May 6. However, the Deputy Commissioners of the remaining seven districts in the valley extended the lockdown till May 6 separately. The COVID curfew was later extended till May 10 and then till May 17.
The administration last month ordered the closure of all universities, colleges, schools, and coaching centres in the Union Territory till May 15 though teaching and non-teaching staff was asked to attend schools and colleges. But, the J&K administration later allowed teaching and non-teaching staff to stay home in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir. The closure of the educational institutes was last week extended till May 30.
Teachers, however, are conducting online classes from home in the valley though many students alleged that they were unable to attend these classes due to non-availability of smart phones. The decision to allow teachers to take online classes from their respective homes was taken after many teaching and non teaching staff members of government schools tested positive for the virus in the Union Territory.
UNI ABS SV 1755