Srinagar: The micro-management of areas with COVID-19 patients has proved beneficial for the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir as the number of containment zones has come down to 32 from 93 in the last 10 days even as the administration has pro-actively carried out coronavirus tests in the affected places, said a senior official.
Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar district Shahid Choudhary, who has been seen working round the lock to ensure availability of healthcare to the people of the district, said asymptomatic cases are among the biggest challenges faced by the administration.
“There have been many challenges. Especially, many asymptomatic patients do not realise the seriousness of coronavirus, taking the risk of acting as carriers,” said the 39-year-old 2009-batch IAS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre.
The increasing number of containment zones in the district had led Choudhary and his team back to the drawing board to restructure the plans for containing the spread of the virus. A new strategy was formed under which it was decided to conduct COVID-19 testing of all residents of localities where five or more positive cases have been reported.
More than 22,000 locals have been tested in these ‘micro’ containment zones during the last one week, as per data.
By refraining from notifying the entire area comprising many localities as a containment zone, the number of red zones started falling drastically and “today we have only 32 such places,” Choudhary, who has been staying away from his family for the last six months since the outbreak of the pandemic, said.
Earlier, even with one COVID-19 patient, the area within a 100-metre radius was declared as a containment zone since cases were coming up in widespread clusters.
A massive testing drive was also undertaken by the district administration which included offices and markets.
During the drive, many offices sprang up COVID-19 patients especially the agriculture department that has 22 such cases, tourism department with 12 cases, General Post Office with 10 and Kashmir University and the estates department with 11 cases each.
On the Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) throwing up some “false negative” results, Choudhary said, “We have made it mandatory for conducting a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for any symptomatic patient showing negative on RAT”.
Till now 70,000 tests have been conducted in the zones, more than 50,000 for incoming travellers and another 16,000 in hospitals, adding up to a total of more than 1.35 lakhs tests conducted in Srinagar district.
The district at present has 1,637 active cases.
Srinagar is among the districts in the country that have seen a recovery rate of 87 per cent against the overall average recovery rate of 77 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, among the total 717 COVID-related deaths in Jammu and Kashmir since the outbreak of the disease in March, Srinagar tops the fatality chart with 246 deaths. The district has also reported the highest caseload of 10,980 cases though 9,097 of them have already recovered.
“The figures don’t trouble me much as I have full faith in the medical teams deployed across the district,” he said.
Being the summer capital of a union territory has its own problems as many people from other districts and states, and security forces also add to the COVID-19 numbers.
Of the 1,637 active cases in the district at present, around 740 are of security forces personnel and travellers from other parts of the UT and the country.
The Deputy Commissioner has been making appeals repeatedly to all residents of the localities notified or to be notified as micro containment zones to support the district administration in the efforts being intensified to reduce the number of infected cases and contain the spread of the disease.
“I know the pain of staying away from your loved ones during isolation. I would request everyone to take precautions so that they can always be with their family,” Choudhary, who talks to his two small daughters through video calls from his make-shift residence, said.