JAMMU: Questioning the disparity in allocation of certain drugs used for COVID-19 treatment to Jammu and Kashmir, president of Jammu Pharmaceutical Distributors Association (JPDA) Rakesh Gupta on Wednesday demanded a seven-day complete lockdown in the Union Territory from next Saturday to tackle the pandemic.
Gupta also demanded installation of already sanctioned oxygen generation plants across hospitals in Jammu region on a war footing.
"We want to ask the Union health ministry why only 10,500 vials of Remdesivir injections were allocated to J&K as per the revised allocation list on April 24, while no allocation was made for J&K as far as Tocilizumab injections, an imported drug, is concerned on April 27," Gupta told reporters here.
He also questioned the claim of the J&K administration that there is no shortage of COVID-19 treatment medicines in the Union Territory and demanded early availability of Remdesivir injections across all hospitals and also ensured allocation of Tocilizumab injections in the national allocation list.
"Sensing the gravity of the (COVID-19) situation across India and analysing what is going to hit us soon for which we are not prepared enough, the JPDA decided to give suggestions to the administration and put forth demands that could save precious human lives," Gupta, a former president of Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said.
We demand a seven-day complete lockdown from next Saturday evening, appointment of district-wise nodal officers to help with the admission of COVID-19 positive patients and establishment of area-wise flu outpatient departments (OPDs) in open spaces to reduce the burden and risk of infection in hospitals, he said.
Among other action plans, Gupta also suggested setting up facilities for vaccination in open spaces, display of the availability of oxygen supported beds in hospitals, announcing immediate and maximum subsidy for setting up oxygen generation plants in private hospitals and big nursing homes and free movement of goods carriers within and outside the UT.
"The JPDA appeals to the Lt Governor and Chief Secretary to act now and announce a complete lockdown before it is too late. The JPDA team will be available 24x7 for any assistance to the administration," Gupta said.
Supporting the ongoing strike by the transporters, he said if their vehicles had to run on 50 per cent occupancy as per the notification issued by the government then the revised passenger fares should have been raised automatically.
He said traders, industrialists, transporters and hoteliers across J&K have suffered heavy losses during the lockdown last year, but "we can do business and earn our livelihood only if we live".
An 84-hour lockdown will be imposed in 11 districts of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday evening in a bid to tackle the surge in COVID-19 cases, a senior official said.
The union territory had on Tuesday recorded its highest single-day spike of 3,164 COVID-19 cases, which took the tally to 1,66,054, while 25 fatalities over the last 24 hours took the toll to 2,197.
The curfew will come into effect at 7 pm on Thursday and remain in force till 7 am on Monday, Secretary of the Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Department Simrandeep Singh said on Wednesday.
"Eleven districts including Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Kulgam, Pulwama, Ganderbal, Jammu, Kathua, Reasi, Udhampur will be under 'corona curfew' from Thursday evening (7 pm) till Monday morning (7 am)", Singh said.
The detailed orders under the Disaster Management Act listing out prohibitions and permissible activities will be issued by the deputy commissioners, he said.
Earlier, the UT administration had announced a 34-hour curfew from 8 pm on Saturday.
On April 8, a night curfew from 10 pm to 6 am was imposed in the urban areas of eight districts, which was extended to the municipal and urban local body limits of all the 20 districts in the UT on April 20.
The state has issued orders for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines for undertaking vaccination of people above 18 years and the administration is expected to get supplies by May 20, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Jammu and Kashmir will provide COVID-19 vaccine free of cost to people in the 18-45 age group, the office of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had said on Saturday.
"We have placed orders for supply of vaccines to undertake vaccination free of cost to people in the 18-45 age group. We expect to get vaccines by May 20," Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, J&K, Atal Dulloo told PTI here.
He said 3,000 to 4,000 vaccination centres will be set up to ensure there is no rush during the vaccination drive.
"We are preparing for vaccination of about 65 lakh people in the 18-45 age group from next month," a senior official said.
He said the government has vaccinated 22 lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir, which is 50 per cent of the target, so far in age groups of people above 45.
Referring to the increasing number of cases, Dulloo said the COVID-19 situation in the Union Territory is "challenging" with cases rising steadily, but there is no need to panic as there is no dearth of facilities, including oxygen beds and required medicines.
"There is a concern. The situation is challenging, as there has been continuous increase in the cases of COVID. There were 3,100 fresh cases reported yesterday", he said.
He said there are 22,000 active cases in Jammu and Kashmir and mortality rate is 1.3 per cent.
Mortality has increased during the past few days, he said.
Dulloo said the health administration is fully geared up to deal with the situation while testing and treatment is going on effectively.
"We are doing 40,000 to 45,000 tests daily that includes 11,000 RT-PCR tests. We are going to increase the testing capacity soon", he said.
He said the government has declared 23 hospitals as fully dedicated COVID centres to deal with the situation.