COVID-19: Kashmir continues to be under lockdown

Srinagar: Restrictions on the movement and assembly of people in Kashmir to contain the spread of coronavirus entered the second month on Saturday, even as authorities have announced free ration for families living below the poverty line in Srinagar due to the prolonged lockdown, officials said.

They said security forces have sealed off main roads in most places in the valley and erected barriers at several other places to check the unwanted movement of the people and to enforce the lockdown.

Only persons with valid movement passes were allowed passage, they added.

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The declared containment or red zones across the valley have been sealed to ensure strict adherence to the standard operating procedure.

The officials said there were 80 red zones in the Kashmir valley and all such areas would remain as red zones up to 42 days, unless no new positive case of COVID-19 is detected.

If any new case is detected in those areas, then the area will remain a red zone for another 42 days, they added.

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

Educational institutions across Kashmir are closed, while all public places, including gymnasiums, parks, clubs and restaurants, were shut down more than a week before the nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While the prime minister declared a country-wide lockdown on the evening of March 24, the Union Territory administration on March 22 had announced a lockdown across Jammu and Kashmir as part of its efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The administration said the essential services, including healthcare, 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 deadly disease. The measures were taken after the detection of the first positive case of coronavirus in the valley.

The total number of positive cases in the Union Territory has risen to 328. Five patients have died in Jammu and Kashmir and 42 have recovered.

More than 59,000 people have been kept under surveillance, including those who are either in government established quarantine facilities or in home isolation.

“Till date 59,205 travellers and persons in contact with suspected cases have been put under surveillance which include 7,631 persons in home quarantine, including facilities operated by government, 260 in hospital quarantine, 281 in hospital isolation and 27,366 under home surveillance. Besides, 23,662 persons have completed their surveillance period of 28 days,” the officials said.

In view of the prevailing situation and the restrictions, below poverty line (BPL) families in Srinagar will be provided free foodgrains for as long as the situation remains as it is, the officials said.

They said the distribution of foodgrains for the current month starts on Saturday and will be completed within two weeks.

Under this initiative, around 30,000 quintals of foodgrains will be distributed free of cost to over 1.4 lakh BPL families in the district, the officials said.

The initiative will benefit about six lakh people who will be provided five kg rice per person per month, they said.

The initiative is a recognition of the need for support and an attempt to reach out to impoverished residents of the district, the officials added.

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