Record one-day spike of 3,474 new COVID cases, 26 deaths in J-K; state places orders of 1.25 crore vaccines

By PTI
SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday recorded its biggest single-day spike of 3,474 fresh COVID-19 cases and 26 coronavirus-related deaths, also the highest in the Union Territory for a 24-hour period, officials said.

The new cases and fatalities pushed the infection count to 1,72,547 and the death toll to 2,253, they said.

Of the fresh cases, 1,024 were from the Jammu division and 2,450 from the Kashmir division, the officials said.

They said Srinagar district recorded a maximum of 1,017 new cases, followed by 489 in Jammu district and 429 in Baramulla district.

The number of active cases has reached 26,144 in the Union Territory, while 1,44,154 patients have recovered so far, the officials said.

Eleven districts of Jammu and Kashmir have been placed under an 84-hour lockdown from 7 pm on Thursday till 7 am on Monday as a measure to prevent the spread of the infection.

The curfew came into effect at 7 pm on Thursday and remain in force till 7 am on Monday, they said.

“Eleven districts comprising Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Kulgam, Pulwama, Ganderbal, Jammu, Kathua, Reasi and Udhampur will be under ‘corona curfew’ from this evening till Monday morning,” the officials said.

In Jammu city, police have put barricades at various places in the city including entry and exit places, they said.

Meanwhile, the administration also announced that the curfew will also be imposed in the remaining nine districts from Friday evening (7 pm) till Monday morning (7 am), officials said.

Earlier, the UT administration had announced a 34-hour curfew from 8 pm on Saturday.

On April 8, a night curfew from 10 pm to 6 am was imposed in the urban areas of eight districts, which was extended to the municipal and urban local body limits of all the 20 districts in the UT on April 20.

Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday recorded its biggest single-day spike of 3,474 fresh COVID-19 cases and 26 coronavirus-related deaths, also the highest in the Union Territory for a 24-hour period.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday urged the people not to panic, saying the administration was fully equipped to deal with the emerging situation.

Chairing a meeting with the office-bearers and volunteers of the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) virtually, he acknowledged the role played by IRCS and lauded the volunteers for their selflessness and dedicated service towards the public.

He called upon them to renew their commitment and determination in complementing the administration’s efforts to speed up the vaccination drive and tackle the challenges of the pandemic.

“With collaborative efforts, we can contribute and play our part in helping those affected,” Sinha said.

He asked the IRCS to carry on with their humanitarian activities and reach out to people, especially those living in remote and far-flung areas, and help the administration in providing food, medical assistance and other essential items to the needy.

Having a strong team of volunteers in all 20 districts of the Union Territory, IRCS volunteers delivered food, medicines and clothes to at least 30,000 families across the union territory during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the Lt Governor said.

Sinha assured all possible support to the IRCS in their cause.

About the preparedness of the administration in handling the pandemic, he observed that the people of Jammu and Kashmir need not panic.

“We are equipped to deal with the emerging situation. Around 1.2 crore vaccine doses have been ordered for vaccination of the 18 to 45 age group. Many oxygen-generation plants have become operational,” he said.

“The availability of oxygen is more than double the requirement. We have 54,500 cubic metres of oxygen against the present consumption of 25,000 cubic metres. Besides, 15,000 cubic metres more will be added in the coming days,” the Lt Governor maintained.

Emphasizing on the dissemination of information about the pandemic, Sinha asked the IRCS to make people aware of all the do’s and Don’ts.

There are many out there who are propagating misinformation among the people, which needs to be countered with facts, he added.

“Use various modes of communication and rope in religious leaders, health workers to spread awareness among people in their local languages,” the Lt Governor urged the volunteers.

has ordered the highest number of vaccine doses in the country and there is no shortage of medical oxygen, the adviser to the lieutenant governor claimed on Thursday.

Addressing a hurriedly-convened press conference, Baseer Ahmad Khan said there was no shortage of medical oxygen or drugs like remdesivir in the Union territory and people should not resort to scaremongering on these counts.

“Jammu and Kashmir has placed order for 1.25 crore vaccine doses, which is highest in the country. Second after that is Uttar Pradesh,” Khan told reporters.

“There’s no shortage of medical oxygen. We have 20 tonnes which is more than what is required.”

The advisor, however, evaded a direct reply when asked about the date when the vaccines would be available in the union territory.

“We have placed the order. I assure you that we will start the vaccination from say after tomorrow. We are committed to complete the vaccination drive as soon as possible,” he said.

Khan said he had been in the Valley since Wednesday on the instructions of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha to take stock of healthcare infrastructure and measures taken to combat COVID.

“There’s a perception being created that there is shortage of drugs like remdesivir. I want to assure the people that there is no shortage. We have placed orders and soon this place will be flooded with these (drugs),” he added.

Khan said Jammu and Kashmir was best managed place in the country when it came to combating COVID.

Divisional Commissioner P K Pole said while Kashmir hospitals had a combined strength of 1,600 oxygen beds, the capacity will be increased to 2,500 shortly.

On the availability of oxygen, Pole said there was a requirement of just 3.2 crore litres per minute if all 1,600 oxygen beds were to be made functional.

“Against the requirement of 3.2 crore litres, we have 5.43 crore litres per minute available,” he added.

Kashmir Valley has witnessed a sudden surge in the number of coronavirus cases over the past six weeks.

The number of active cases has risen to 16,329 against just 748 on March 16 this year.

Srinagar district alone has nearly 8,000 active COVID cases.

The authorities have imposed an 84-hour lock down in 11 districts of Jammu and Kashmir that began at 7 pm on Thursday.