The Covid task force met under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary, Jammu & Kashmir, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta in which Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Medical Education Department, Administrative Secretaries of Home and Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation & Reconstruction along with othe officers of H&ME Department were present.
In view of the surge in COVID cases, the Task Force reviewed the public health response and various mitigation measures being put in place for effective containment and mitigation of the infection in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Task Force was apprised that Jammu and Kashmir has administered 1.94 crore vaccines to vaccinate 107% and 101% eligible population with the first and second dose, respectively. The UT is further speeding up its vaccination drive in the 15-17 age category and has already achieved 32% coverage.
The Chief Secretary asked the Health & Medical Education Department to prioritize administering booster doses in vulnerable populations, besides, expediting vaccination in the 15-17 age group and replenishing the stock of COVID specific medicines. The Department was directed to ensure strict enforcement of CAB, COVID SOPs, and protocols towards ensuring the highest caution and preparedness and lowest fatality.
Dr. Mehta emphasized that Omicron has a growth advantage over the delta variant and as such requires ardent mitigation and containment measures from an early stage, preferably when the positivity rate breaks out the 10% benchmark.
Observing that Omicron is being perceived as less dangerous than the delta variant responsible for the second wave, the Chief Secretary appealed to the public to raise their guard and remain cautious and vigilant to the infection since it has a high rate of transmission and can infect a larger group of people over shorter periods. “It remains the social and moral responsibility of every citizen to be responsible for themselves and those around them; they must exercise due diligence against any symptom of infection in the interest of their family members as well as that of society at large”, Dr. Mehta maintained.
People were further appealed to avoid visiting crowded places and all symptomatic persons to appropriately isolate themselves and seek medical assistance, if required. In the event of non-availability of home isolation, institutional isolation facilities can be availed.
The Chief Secretary directed immediate activation of emergency control rooms and decentralized COVID war rooms and re-activation of Panchayat level isolation facilities and COVID Care Centres to contain the rural spread of the disease.
The NHM was asked to widely publicize the COVID helplines and UT/Divisional/District-level emergency contact numbers for assistance including tele-consultations through bulk messages and proper advertisement, besides promoting medical interactions with medical experts on both electronic and social media. The Department was also asked to create visual content in vernaculars on COVID good practices for circulation among the general public.
The Chief Secretary directed ramping up of testing facilities in Jammu and Kashmir to conduct over 2 lakh daily tests in the coming days while maintaining the contact tracing ratio at 1:15.
The Task Force was further apprised that under ECRP-II, all infrastructural preparations have been completed and ICU beds, oxygen supported beds, and ventilators are in a state of readiness. At present, the bed occupancy in Jammu and Kashmir is less than 10% and the medical facilities are maintaining a healthy and comfortable state.
Dr. Mehta further impressed upon the Health Department to circulate treatment SOPs for minor children and train the pediatrics staff accordingly, besides ensuring the availability of the best treatment and facilities including suitable ventilators and related machinery to this age category which has hitherto remained less affected from COVID-19.