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Fear grips Ladakh as number of COVID-19 positive cases jumps to 13

Most of the infected persons have the history of travel to Iran, which has become a hotspot of coronavirus, for pilgrimage or were their relatives and friends.

SP Sharma | Jammu |

Fear gripped the cold desert union territory (UT) of Ladakh on Saturday when three more persons were tested positive for coronavirus with which the total number of positive cases there has jumped to 13. Most of the infected persons have the history of travel to Iran, which has become a hotspot of coronavirus, for pilgrimage or were their relatives and friends.

Among the three who tested positive, 2 were from the Leh district and one from Kargil. The authorities have sealed the Chuchot Village in the backyard of Leh where the number of infected persons was initially high.

The number of infected persons had touched 10 on Friday when two new cases were detected and within few hours the positive test reports of another three persons were received.

Ladakh UT’s spokesman and Commissioner (Health) Rigzin Samphel, told media persons in Leh that three new persons were tested positive for COVID-19 infection in Ladakh; taking the total positive cases to 13; while 32 cases report negative. Out of 35 test samples received from Delhi, 9 are of Kargil district with 1 positive and 8 negative; and 26 are of Leh district with 2 positive and 21 negative results for COVID-19.

Rigzin said that the relatives of all the three patients had recently travelled to Iran and were found COVID-19 positive. An army soldier belonging to the Ladakh Scouts regiment was earlier tested positive and his father and wife were also tested positive. They have been admitted to Leh’s Sonam Norbu Memorial Hospital (SNMH) in an isolation ward.

With the increasing number of cases in Ladakh people are opting for self-quarantine and all educational institutions, hotels, restaurants, bars, food courts and community kitchens are closed down in the region till 31 March.

Ladakh has been declared out of bounds for tourists and non-Ladakhis. The UT authorities have ordered the airlines not to bring any tourist or non-Ladakhi to the Leh airport in its flights.

Vehicular movement has been stopped on the Srinagar–Zojila road in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

The district administrations of Leh and Kargil have banned mass gathering by imposing prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr Pc.

More than 290 people, including those who returned from Iran, their relatives and contacts, are being monitored by the administration. Of all people under surveillance, 208 are in home quarantine, and being monitored daily by healthcare workers. About 150 people have successfully completed their 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

Among all those who are under quarantine, 58 have been placed in hospital quarantine, and 18 people, including positive and symptomatic suspected cases, are in different isolation wards at SNM Hospital.

Meanwhile, curfew-like restrictions continued to be imposed for the second day today in Srinagar and other districts of the valley. The streets wore a deserted look in the ten districts of Jammu division where three COVID-19 positive persons have been identified.

The UT of Jammu and Kashmir is preparing for the “Janta Curfew” on Sunday.

Srinagar’s district magistrate has warned that “defiance of restrictions will earn jail and fine. Nothing less”.

He tweeted; “255 more citizens have arrived back in Srinagar from Bangladesh and other countries up to 2 pm since morning. These persons have been isolated to undergo quarantine as a preventive measure. It’s notable that 50 well-equipped quarantine facilities have been set up in the district”.