COVID-19: J&K extends school and higher education institution closures


As it reviewed the COVID-19 situation in the Union Territory, the Jammu and Kashmir State Executive Committee (SEC) on Sunday prolonged the closure of educational institutions until further instructions.

Furthermore, the committee stated that no weekend curfews would be implemented in any district, but night curfews would be enforced from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. It also set a limit of 25 people for both indoor and outdoor gatherings. In an order, Chief Secretary A K Mehta stated that there have been some improvements in many districts when compared to prior weeks.

“However, there is a need to continue with the existing Covid containment measures in all the districts in view of the uneven trend in the daily Covid cases,” Mehta, the SEC chairman, said.

Schools and higher educational institutions, including coaching centres, will stay closed for onsite or in-person instruction until additional instructions are issued, according to Mehta.

Educational institutions, on the other hand, are allowed to request the personal attendance of a restricted number of vaccinated employees for administrative considerations, he added.

According to the Chief Secretary, all deputy commissioners (DCs) have been asked to focus on the positive rates of the medical blocks within their jurisdictions.

“Intensified measures related to Covid management and restriction of activities shall be undertaken by the DCs in these blocks. There shall be renewed focus on panchayat-level mapping of cases, and micro-containment zones shall be constituted wherever unusual spike of cases is noticed,” the order said.

In the event that weekly positivity rates in these blocks exceed 4%, deputy commissioners will keep a close eye on them and consider enacting tougher control measures in closed clustered venues such as public and private offices, community halls, malls, and markets, according to the report.

“The three ‘T’ protocols of testing, tracking and treating, besides vaccination, need to be strengthened in these blocks. The proportion of RT-PCR tests in the total mix should be scaled up, on a best effort basis, to 70 per cent or more, excluding travellers,” Mehta said.

Positive cases discovered through extensive testing, he said, should be isolated and quarantined as soon as possible, and their contacts should be tracked down and quarantined and tested as well, if necessary.

Based on their assessment of case trajectory, the Health and Medical Education department was required to provide enough availability of COVID-dedicated health and logistics (including ambulatory) infrastructure.

“National Health Mission in consultation with the DCs shall take up panchayat level mapping and data capturing for tracking the positivity rates on fortnightly basis in all panchayats,” the order said.

District magistrates have been ordered by Mehta to strictly enforce COVID-appropriate behaviour and to prosecute violators under relevant parts of the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code.

“The district magistrates shall constitute joint teams of police and executive magistrates for enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour. The joint teams shall submit daily reports regarding activities carried out by them and their assessment of compliance level,” the order said.

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