Srinagar, July 21:The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry is deeply concerned at the spike in Covid Positive cases and the number of deaths in Srinagar and other districts of Kashmir. Deliberations on the subject have been held with various groups and individuals including the Doctors Association of Kashmir, CARE Kashmir, Civil Society Groups, Health & Medical Experts and Business Organisations over the past few days. The relevant data has exhaustively been gone through with regard to the pattern of the spread of infection. The death toll at the time of writing is 229, and the number of positive cases in Kashmir is 11,112 with Srinagar reporting 2,901 active cases.
An analysis of the spread of infection in Kashmir can be directly linked to ignoring of prescribed protocols by certain individuals amongst us. The terms “Covidiots” and “Covikoofs”” have been coined to describe such specially abled individuals. Before we go further, it would be important to explains the terms which includes the following:
- A brain dead person who after an abundance of times hearing the advice of health care professionals about the need of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and proper hand sanitization by washing/using hand sanitizers continues to be oblivious of the COVID-19 pandemic thus helping to further spread it;
- An individual or group of individuals who in the face of COVID-19, acting selfishly towards others by refusing to stay home and aimlessly loiter about in parks and on the roads;
- An individual or group of individuals who abuse and physically attack our Doctors and Medical staff thereby further disrupting the already depleted healthcare system and depriving critically ill patients of medical treatment.
Now, four months of continuous lockdown stands squandered away and Kashmir is in a worse situation than ever before. The society is now facing the threat of two pandemics: Coronavirus and Stupidity. The need of the hour for the society is to now collectively and sensibly fight not only the COVID-19 pandemic but also the more lethal pandemic of Covidiots.
There was a need for maintaining a sharp vigil in the months of June and July and to monitor the violations and laxity in this regard deserves to be criticized. The laxity caused the general public to wrongly perceive the gravity of the situation and they were seen thronging public places including parks and picnic spots. People and business establishments cannot be indefinitely locked up. There has be a proper roadmap for unlocking which the administration had ample opportunity to formulate in the three to four months of lockdown. There will always be a risk of rise in the number of cases when the process of unlocking is initiated and the administration and the general public have to be prepared for it. But the measures taken so far have left much to be desired and are unacceptable as well as unworkable. The partial shifting of the Durbar to Srinagar appears to have consumed all the focus and attention of the administration. Perhaps the offices need to be given guidelines for intermittent opening and reduction of employee’s for the time being. The reports and video’s on social media about the violation of SOP’s regarding testing of incoming laborers has also caused avoidable panic and anxiety in the community. It is urged that the entry points should be strictly monitored and tests carried out without fail.
The fight against COVID-19 rests now on the shoulders of the civil society and the general public. The civil society including mohalla committees, Masjid/Gurudwara committees and have played a stellar role in supporting, feeding and helping lessen the sufferings of the people. The general public have displayed exemplary patience and cooperation despite heavy odds and deep stress. It has to be borne in mind that the business community is presently undergoing the 12th month of a lockdown which has inflicted heavy damages to the economy. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry urges the administration to keep the livelihood of the business community in mind and for the time being formulate a policy of opening up of the permissible business activities so that the unnecessary rush to the markets is avoided and business establishments get an opportunity to move their stocks which would otherwise become dead.
Now the responsibility of identifying the Covidiots and drilling into their mind the fact that their conduct is not only causing the spread of infection and loss of lives – which should have normally been enough to shame them into staying home or wearing masks but also endangering the vulnerable sections of the community including children and elderly people.
The next time anybody is seen in public places without a mask or not maintaining social distance or abusing Doctors/medical staff, it would be the responsibility of the public to make sure that they never again even think about repeating the act. Heads of Mohalla and Masjid/Gurudwara Committees are urged to keep spare masks available in their respective localities and mask these elements up. They need to be told that they are a threat to the society and have caused sufferings and loss of lives and livelihood. The underprivileged in the community need to be educated about the danger and provided with sanitizers and masks. The mask we wear is not only for one’s own protection but for the protection of others. If they hate wearing a mask, they would really hate the ventilator, if they are lucky enough to get one.
Regarding the abuse and attacks on Doctors and medical staff, the Covidiots have to realise that no global superpowers had anticipated the pandemic nor could their health infrastructure cope up with it. It is bizzare to see the doctors who have absolutely no role to play in the creation of infrastructure being attacked for the perceived lack of it. In fact, the opposite holds true, the Doctors and medical staff are putting themselves and their families at serious risk and working day and night to serve the community against heavy odds. They deserve our respect and are the only factor standing in between life and imminent death. It is disgustingly unfair to target them.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry once against makes an fervent appeal to all the social and grassroot leadership, thinkers and intellectuals, general public and NGO’s to shift their focus on the prevention of the Coronavirus by religiously following the SOP’s and prescribed protocols with the thrust on the wearing of masks.