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As active Covid cases in Jammu and Kashmir approach the 50,000-mark, the union territory has begun a drive to educate residents about the fatal disease with an eye on its prevention while fighting misinformation associated with it.
Top doctors, including epidemiologists, pulmonologists and physicians are giving out vital information on social media and television networks including through a live phone-in program to answer Covid-related queries. The drive is part of a multi-pronged strategy to fight the second wave of the disease, believed to be more lethal and infectious than the first one last year.
“We need a huge thrust on information dissemination regarding Covid and counter[ing] the misinformation. On the instructions of Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha, we have also started a phone-in programme where specialist doctors will provide information to the general public. A mass social media campaign has also been launched to educate [the] public about the Dos and Don’ts in the Pandemic,” said Dr Shafqat Khan, the officer on special duty (OSD) in the Health and Medical Education Department. He said the government’s target audience were mild cases under treatment in home isolation.
“This is turning into a success story,” Dr Khad added referring to the perceived success of the program.
“The efforts are to amplify the [correct] message as there is a lot of misinformation spreading within the community about the disease,” said Dr Salim Khan, the head of department (HoD) of Social and Preventive Medicine at the Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar. He is also the nodal officer for Covid-19 at the hospital.
Till Sunday evening, Jammu and Kashmir’s Covid infection toll had reached 216,932 including 2,726 deaths. Most of these cases have been reported in Srinagar and Jammu districts. The number of active cases (49,248) was inching towards the 50,000 mark in the UT with 45,123 infections and 289 deaths- the highest in a month—recorded in April alone as against 4,519 positive cases and 37 deaths recorded in March.
Almost all of J&K’s present active cases have been added after February 9, when the UT had the lowest active case tally of 593. The last two months have seen a steep rise of 8.3 times in the active cases. Owing to the alarming surge, the J&K administration has imposed Corona curfew in all 20 districts of the UT.