Primary schools shut in six J&K districts, biometric attendance suspended

Two suspected coronavirus patients who fled the Jammu government medical college and hospital on Wednesday after being quarantined, turned out to be ‘high viral-load cases’, forcing the Jammu and Kashmir administration to order the closure of all ...

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SRINAGAR/JAMMU: Two suspected coronavirus patients who fled the Jammu government medical college and hospital on Wednesday after being quarantined, turned out to be ‘high viral-load cases’, forcing the Jammu and Kashmir administration to order the closure of all primary schools in six districts of the Union Territory (UT), including four in Kashmir Valley, on Saturday. Biometric attendance in all government offices across J&K shall remain suspended till March 31.

The UT raised its first coronavirus alert on Saturday after test reports of the two patients with a travel history to South Korea and Italy revealed that they had a high viral load and were very likely to test positive for the infection. The duo — currently quarantined at the Jammu GMCH — fled the isolation ward of the facility on Wednesday but was brought back within few hours after much persuasion by authorities, director of information Dr Sehrish Asgar said. They are in stable condition and responding to treatment. Samples collected from them have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, she added.

As a precautionary measure, authorities have ordered the closure of all primary schools in Jammu and Samba districts till March 31, and in Srinagar, Budgam, Baramulla and Bandipora districts till further orders, Kashmir divisional commissioner Basheer Khan said. Kupwara deputy commissioner Anshul Garg ordered the suspension of morning assemblies in all schools in the district till March 31.


“Teachers shall continue to attend the schools… any (primary school) examination shall stand postponed and schools shall notify fresh dates separately,” said an order by the Jammu director of school education. Jammu deputy commissioner Sushma Chouhan ordered the school closure under Sec 144 of the CrPC citing that “children, especially up to the primary school level, should not be sent to schools to avoid mass gatherings”.

J&K foreigner regional registration office (FRRO) has asked foreigners visiting the UT to self-declare at the airports, official spokesperson and principal secretary (planning, monitoring and information) Rohit Kansal said while addressing a press conference later in the day. “It is mandatory to fill up the self-declaration form that you have not visited any coronavirus-affected country in the recent past. Forms are available at Jammu and Srinagar airports, railway stations and hotels,” Kansal said. “Thermal imaging has been introduced for all pilgrims visiting Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. Those arriving in J&K via road are being monitored at Lakhanpur and Lower Munda. Help desks at railway stations in Jammu and Katra are also operational,” he added.

While appealing to citizens to cooperate fully wherever quarantining is required, Kansal said, “So far, 287 suspected were put under active surveillance, out of which 95 have complete the quarantine period of 28 days,” He added that 28 samples of suspected cases have been sent for testing so far, out of which 25 have reported negative while two have reported a high viral load, but a final report is awaited.
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Kansal urged all citizens, especially those with a travel history to coronavirus-affected countries, to self-declare immediately and report to the nearest government healthcare facility about any symptom. Helplines have already been established for advice and assistance and there is no shortage of safety masks and other necessary equipment.

“If you (visitor) feel sick or experience symptoms of coronavirus while de-boarding a flight/train/vehicle in Jammu, immediately report the matter to airport health office and disseminate the information immediately to helpline numbers: 01912520982 (control room, directorate of health services), 01912582621 (CID SB C/R Jammu), 01912582634 (FRRO Jammu) and 0191254967 (UT call for MK),” an FRRO spokesperson said, adding, “Follow the advice of the airport health officer or as conveyed by the helpline official. Report your illness to the nearest health facility and also inform the treating doctor of your travelling history.”
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