The Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta today chaired a meeting to review public health response to COVID-19 and directed the rollout of a dedicated IEC campaign for awareness generation towards prevention of subsequent COVID waves in Jammu and Kashmir.Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Medical Education, Director SKIMS, Mission Director, National Health Mission (NHM), Principal Government Medical College Srinagar/Jammu, and Director Health Services Kashmir/Jammu participated in the meeting.The Chief Secretary observed that the number of COVID cases in the Union territory has stagnated around 130 per day over a fortnight, despite ongoing efforts of the Health & Medical Education Department to further lower it. He attributed absence of COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) as the primary cause for such stagnation.It was informed that Jammu and Kashmir continues to conduct around 50,000 COVID tests on a daily basis. However, the positivity in Jammu province has increased in the last two days due to a surge in cases being reported from a few districts, which is a cause of concern. Further, the genome sequencing of samples taken from COVID patients revealed that about 80% of infections in Jammu and Kashmir are primarily due to the delta variant of the virus which is highly contagious and can lead to development of severe symptoms in patients.
The Chief Secretary impressed upon the Department to enforce location-specific restrictions in districts reporting higher cases and positivity. It was directed that COVID SOPs and protocols must be strictly enforced in micro-containment zones through manpower reinforcement at all critical junctures by deputing additional government employees on COVID duty.Dr. Mehta further directed the enforcement agencies to adopt a graded penalty mechanism to penalize repetitive defaulters and offenders. It was directed that the Department in collaboration with various market associations, trade associations, and employee associations implement the graded-penalty mechanism by taking collective action against the delinquents.The Chief Secretary also appealed to the general public to observe strict discipline and COVID appropriate behavior while visiting public spaces to keep themselves safe from infection, besides, advising the Department to fix the responsibility of non-compliance of CAB and SOPs on HODs of departments and owners/managers of commercial facilities. The Department was further advised to impose greater restrictions at a specific area in case of continued defiance of COVID protocols, by declaring it a micro-containment zone.Additionally, the National Health Mission was asked to formulate an extensive IEC campaign to generate mass awareness on good practices, COVID appropriate behavior, and Dos & Don’ts in public spaces by involving doctors and domain experts.