SRINAGAR: A senior officer in J&K administration has told this newspaper that efforts are on to make preparations to combat Covid-19. “We suspended the nodal officer in the health department for dereliction of duties,” he said, adding that the government was trying its best to procure testing kits and other equipment, including ventilators, to combat the growing threat of Covid-19. The threat became real in Kashmir recently when an old woman from Srinagar city tested positive for the virus.

Reports said that Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Girish Chandra Murmu has sent a report to the Central government for immediate intervention for procurement of equipment and also the ground report from his intelligence people for the restoration of 4G internet services in Kashmir valley. Earlier, L-G Murmu ordered suspension of nodal officer Dr Shafkat Khan for dereliction of duties.

Some senior doctors told this reporter that during a latest high-level meeting when one woman from Srinagar tested positive, they told the government that they don’t have the requisite equipment for response mechanism against the coronavirus. In this backdrop, on Friday, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Shahid Choudhary released Rs 3 crore for different hospitals and even for the Srinagar Municipality to procure requisite equipment and items for response mechanism. “We immediately need high speed internet restoration as it will help us combat not only the corona threat, but also guide people not to come to the hospitals for routine ailments,” a senior doctor working in SKIMS said.

Students in Jammu and Kashmir, along with doctors, have been demanding 4G internet services on mobile phones as it is the only means to communicate in the present lockdown. Mayor of SMS Junaid Mattoo recently met L-G Murmu, appealing him for restoration of 4G internet services in Kashmir in the wake of corona threat. Even Dr Farooq Abdullah has written to Prime Minister Modi, asking for restoration of 4G internet services in Kashmir in these days of crisis. “We have yet to procure ventilators and high speed oxygen flow masks to combat Covid-19,” a senior official of the Health and Medical education department told this newspaper. He confessed that they don’t have the trained manpower to run these ventilators and attend to virus-affected patients in intensive care units. He said that even gloves, testing kits, personal protective gear for the staff are insufficient.

After getting feedback from the ground, Divisional commissioner Kashmir Pandurang Kondbarao Pole on Friday himself inspected screening centers and main entry points at both Anantnag and Kulgam districts in South Kashmir.

Meanwhile, police and authorities were able to trace three PhD scholars from AMU in Kashmir valley as they fled from the quarantine ward without informing the authorities. Deputy Commissioner Baramulla Dr G.N. Itoo told media on Saturday that two scholars from his district were traced and hospitalized. Similarly, another scholar was traced from South Kashmir and hospitalized. Recent reports said that many students from infected countries like Bangladesh and Iran have entered Kashmir valley without undergoing tests. There was a lot of hue and cry at Srinagar airport when students from Bangladesh refused to go for screening and quarantine. Police forcibly took them to the isolation ward and screening has been intensified at two entry points in Kashmir valley at South Kashmir.

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