The Union Home Secretary, Ajay Bhalla, while chairing a high-level meeting to review the public health response to COVID-19 urged all Union territories to ensure vigorous testing, tracking, and treating of COVID cases besides undertaking speedy vaccination of eligible population towards successful containment of the COVID pandemic in India.Chief Secretary, Jammu & Kashmir Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta along with Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Medical Education Department, besides Chief Secretaries/Administrators of other Union Territories including Andaman & Nicobar, Chandigarh, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry participated in the meeting.While reviewing the COVID situation in the Union territories, the Home Secretary said that the UTs have witnessed a sharp decline in cases over the past few weeks. “The positivity and fertility rates have come down to 7.6% and 1.3%, respectively”, he added.Lauding J&K’s well-drawn strategy in combating COVID-19, Member, NITI Aayog, Dr. V. K. Paul said that J&K is emerging as a role model amongst entities with large territorial areas in conducting targeted testing, stratified vaccination and providing grass root-level medical care. J&K’s model has assisted the Union territory in bringing down COVID caseload & related deaths per million population to 894 and 62, respectively over the last two weeks.Giving a brief of the measures being taken in J&K to contain the spread of COVID, the Chief Secretary, J&K informed that the Government has instituted a rural medical and testing grid through panchayat-level COVID care centres to provide timely medical care to patients in rural areas. “These centres provide various COVID related medical services and conduct daily COVID tests for early detection of emerging hotspots, besides raising awareness on the COVID appropriate behaviour”, he added.
Currently, Jammu and Kashmir is among the leading regions in the country in vaccination of above 45 years age group having vaccinated 75% of its eligible population which is well above the national average of 42%, while achieving universal coverage in 4 districts- Ganderbal, Jammu, Samba and Shopian, and Wayun village in Bandipora district.Meanwhile, J&K has also vaccinated 85% of health care workers, 84% of frontline workers, and 10% of the population in 18- 45 age category. The Chief Secretary assured the Central Government of achieving 100% vaccination in 45 age category by 30th June 2021 and 30% coverage in 18- 45 age category by 15th July 2021 through robust vaccination drives which have been ramped up to a capacity of administering 1.6 lakh doses per day.Further, the Chief Secretary informed that through Government’s timely response, the daily number of COVID cases has reduced from an all-time high of over 5400 to 585 over a month. The same period also witnessed a reduction in the case positivity rate from 13% to 3.3%, which has further reduced to 1.2% in last 24 hours.Regarding augmentation of medical infrastructure and facilities in the Union territory, it was informed that the Government has more than doubled the number of COVID-dedicated beds and tripled the medical oxygen supply to cater to COVID-related eventualities.Considering the gradual lifting of restrictions in line with recovery from COVID’s second wave, the Home Secretary asked the UT Government to vigorously promote COVID appropriate behaviour through strict enforcement of SOPs and proper crowd management at market places, mandis, and religious places.The Home Secretary asked the UT Administrations to remain in a state of readiness to mitigate future surges, besides undertaking a combined strategy of test-track-treat COVID cases, micro containment of emerging hot spots, speedy vaccination, enforcement of COVID appropriate behaviour and ramping up of COVID dedicated medical facilitiesfor successful containment of the disease.