In the dark, says Kargil, as tests delayed, China looms

5 months ago 23
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Written by Ankita Dwivedi Johri | Published: June 28, 2020 4:05:27 am

India-China border news, India China border, Galwan valley, China attack Kargil has no testing lab, with the nearest 200 km away, in Chuchot Yokma in Leh district. Express Photo By Shuaib Masoodi, 05.07.2014.

On May 23, says the 28-year-old, he boarded a Shramik train from Mumbai, along with 135 residents of Ladakh’s Kargil district, to return home. “About 30 of us arrived on May 26. We were put in institutional quarantine, with our samples collected for Covid-19 testing on June 1.”

Refusing to reveal his identity, he adds that for the next two weeks, none of them heard anything on their test results. “On June 12, all 30 of us gathered outside the quarantine centre and protested,” he recalls.

Finally, on June 14, his results came positive for Covid-19. “I had already spent 14 days in quarantine. So I had to undergo re-sampling on June 16,” he says. That result too was positive, and now he is waiting for results of the third test, done on June 24.
Having declared itself Covid-free on May 15, Kargil is seeing a surge in cases this month. Of Ladakh’s nearly 1,000 cases, 70% are in Kargil.

Says Feroz Ahmed Khan, Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil, “Those who returned mixed freely with residents since their results were not out….”

Kargil has no testing lab, with the nearest 200 km away, in Chuchot Yokma in Leh district. “Earlier, we were sending most of our samples to the NCDC in Delhi. In June, the test results started getting delayed. Recently, we have begun sending samples to Chandigarh. We hope this will reduce delays,” says Dr Abdul Jalil, in-charge of the only dedicated Covid-19 hospital in Kargil, with 100 beds. As of June 24, 63 beds were occupied.

Khan says apart from the hospital, they have 10 ICU beds, Covid Care Centres in all12 blocks, isolation beds, quarantine centres, and beds in hotels — about 1,000 in all.

Among those waiting for their result is a 25-year-old research scholar at Delhi University who returned to Kargil on May 14 and remains in home quarantine since. He is waiting for results of a second sample. “The lab has been conducting 80-90 tests daily as per press release of the administration. Of these, at least till June 17, not more than 10 tests were from Kargil,” he says.

Khan says they are trying to see to it that more samples from Kargil are tested at the Leh lab.

Kargil Deputy Commissioner Baseer Ul Haq Choudhary did not respond to calls and messages.

Kargil residents are now on edge over the border tension with China. Social activist Sajjad Hussain says the mixed messages from the government aren’t helping, despite the site of the June 15-16 night clash being 400 km away. “Since the Kargil war, there has been no ceasefire violation from Pakistan’s side here. Now people fear there might be shelling. The administration should reach out to stakeholders like village heads to soothe nerves.”

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