Covid is rearing its ugly head again – this time in the form of Omicron. It started in November 2021, when this new variant was first reported from South Africa. It reached India in December.
From Karnataka, Omicron took a few days to enter Jammu & Kashmir when the first three cases were confirmed from a cluster in Jammu on December 21. Kashmir subsequently reported five cases on January 11 when the daily covid cases abruptly jumped from 706 to 1148.
In a bid to tame the rising graph, the federally-run administration ordered a complete restriction on non-essential movement from 9 pm to 6 am in a place (devoid of night life) where freezing cold mostly shuts life at around 6 pm.
After mobility, the officialdom closed down all the educational institutions including coaching centers and paramedical classes. This controversial act of covid control was criticized by the Coaching Centers Association of Kashmir saying ‘Govt targets educational sector as first casualty when activities like festivals, overcrowded public transport, rallies, etc throng normally.’ Students also protested against the order.
The subsequent crackdown on some coaching centers for not adhering to the directive made the official whip on offline education quite telling. But closing down educational institutions is futile, as Kashmir’s curbed and confined students were mostly following the covid appropriate behaviour in classrooms.
On the face of this selective sanction, it needs to say that Covid spreads with travel. And that’s why countries primarily ground flights when the virus runs amok. Rather than controlling the tourist flow and ensuring Omicron testing facility on the entry points of Kashmir, the administration is managing Covid surge on an odd tangent.
The current covid handling makes it look like as if only education has been tested positive in Kashmir.
And while education has gone online again, the offline activities like tourist footfall are peaking in the valley due to snowfall, Covid-induced global restrictions and New Year sightseeing in the mountains.
Moreover, the genome sequencing testing facility to detect omicron is only available in the premier hospital of SKIMS, while GMC Srinagar sends samples to Delhi. When results take days, the transmission multiples.
Besides, WHO has already made it quite certain that the world has to live with covid. With every passing year, it keeps mutating and emerging like a phoenix.
To deal with the covid crisis, let’s not always make education primary casualty in Kashmir. The administration can handle the surging situation better by enhancing surveillance, genome sequencing facility at airport and road entry points, controlling the tourist inflow and decreasing the crowd in public transport.