SMVDSB to allow limited people for yatra, road travelers to undergo RAT only

23 more cops from SKPA, JK Bank Manager among 128 test +ve
2 Corona deaths in Ladakh

JAMMU, Aug 7: Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) is set to allow limited number of pilgrims to have darshan of Goddess Vaishno Devi in holy cave shrine located between Trikuta Hills from August 16 strictly as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which is being finalized by the Board in consultations with district Reasi Disaster Management Authority while the administration has decided to allow the asymptomatic people entering Jammu and Kashmir from Lakhanpur to proceed for home quarantine if their Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) whose report comes within half an hour is negative.
However, there was no let up in Corona cases across Jammu region where 128 persons including 23 more police personnel, 22 of them Probationary Sub Inspectors (PSIs), from Sher-i-Kashmir Police Academy (SKPA) Udhampur, a Manager of Jammu and Kashmir Bank, three members of a Kachi Chawni family and eight more CRPF personnel from their 6th battalion headquartered at Katra tested positive for the virus. Two persons died of COVID-19 in Ladakh today.
Sources told the Excelsior that the SMVDSB is likely to come out with the SOP on resumption of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji pilgrimage in next couple of days as it had to take opinion of the district administration of Reasi whose District Magistrate heads Disaster Management Authority. The Board is expected to allow “limited numbers” of pilgrims to begin with by maintaining social distancing at all the places right from Katra to Bhawan and enroute like Charan Padhuka, Adh Kunwari etc for the yatra.
The Shrine Board has purchased sanitizers and masks for the pilgrims who are not in possession of these two essential items on their own all along 13 kilometers track. Even in the darshan queue at all places, the pilgrims will have to maintain social distancing for which the plan has been formulated.
“Only asymptomatic pilgrims will be allowed to proceed for darshan for which mechanism like checking temperature etc is in place,” sources said, adding even the Shrine Board is not expecting much influx of pilgrims in the beginning when mostly local pilgrims from the UT may undertake the yatra in view of restrictions on inter-State movement and transport.
Pilgrimage to the widely revered shrine was suspended in March following outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic. On August 4, the UT Government had announced reopening of all religious places and places of worship from August 16.
Meanwhile, after allowing rail and air travelers to proceed for home quarantine after testing for COVID-19 at Railway Station and Airports respectively, the administration has also started permitting road travelers from Lakhanpur to go for Rapid Antigen Test whose report is available within half an hour to leave for home quarantine if they test negative, District Magistrate Kathua OP Bhagat told the Excelsior.
Earlier, the RT-PCR test whose result is taking 2-3 days time was mandatory for road travelers at Lakhanpur. Pending outcome of the result, the entrants at Lakhanpur had to stay at administrative or paid quarantine unless they had negative test report with them not more than 48 hours old.
“With new system in place, we have just 170 persons in administrative quarantine in district Kathua now including those who were symptomatic as others have proceeded for home quarantine after testing negative with RAT,” Bhagat said, adding that RT-PCR test is being done on symptomatic and other suspected cases including contacts of positive persons.
The RAT sample collection centres have been established at Lakhanpur, Nagri Parole, Hiranagar, Basohli, Bani and Billawar, the DM Kathua said.
Meanwhile, 23 more police personnel today tested positive for COVID-19 in the SKPA Udhampur, Deputy Commissioner Dr Piyush Singla said.
A total of 400 police personnel at SKPA Udhampur were today tested for the virus through RAT and 23 of them reported positive. They include 22 Probationary Sub Inspectors and one Selection Grade Constable. Three hundred more tests are planned for tomorrow, Dr Singla said.
The SKPA has already been declared as Red Zone after over two dozen police men, mostly the PSIs, were tested positive.
In Jammu district, 61 persons have tested COVID positive including 40 with no travel history.
The positives include three members of a Kachi Chawni family including a 37-year-old man, his 10-year-old son and three-year-old daughter with no travel history, a driver of Forest Department in City, a staffer of Command Area Development (CAD) office and employees of CGHS dispensary and Tourism office.
Other positives of Jammu district include 38-year-old man from Jain Bazaar, 28-year-old woman from Christian Colony, 50-year-old woman from Prem Nagar, a youth from Pathankot, a youth each from Arnia and Gajansoo, 37-year-old man from Batehra, 26-year-old from Pallanwalla, 24-year-old girl from Gadigarh, 24-year-old girl from Camp Gole Gujral, middle-aged man from Channi Himmat, youth from Akhnoor, an elderly citizen from RS Pura, 28-year-old youth from Resham Ghar, 23-year-old youth from Gandhi Nagar, teenager from Channi, 40-year-old man from Janipur, 45-year-old from Paloura, 35-year-old from Gangyal, teenager from Bhatindi and 37-year-old man from Bishnah.
Sixteen new Corona cases were today reported from Reasi district. They include a J&K Bank Manager from Jammu posted at Arnas and a SPO from Matlote Thuroo who was on guard duty at SDPO Arnas office.
Rest of the positives from Reasi district were eight CRPF personnel of 6th battalion based at Dhirti Painthal in Katra, an Army jawan from Tote Bhamag who had come home on leave and was under administrative quarantine, a 47-year-old woman from Pouni, who happened to be mother of her positive kin, 45-year-old man from Kharalaie Pouni, an SDRF jawan from Arnas and a police personnel hailing from Kishtwar who was under quarantine at DPL Reasi.
In Samba district, 11 persons today tested positive including one each from Uttarakhand and Haryana, who had reached Samba for work. Other positives include four from Bari Brahamna and one each from Ranjari, Ghagwal, Bari Brahamna and Gho Brahamna. A middle-aged man from Ambika Colony Jammu also tested positive in Samba district, SSP Shakti Pathak said.
Nine persons reported positive for the virus in Kathua districts, five of whom were contacts of Corona patients from Ward No. 14 and four travelers.
Three travelers each tested positive in Doda and Rajouri districts today while one person each were infected in Ramban and Poonch districts. Kishtwar didn’t report any Corona positive case today.
As many as 142 Corona patients were today treated for the virus and discharged from various COVID hospitals in Jammu region including 67 in Ramban district, 21 Udhampur, 17 Doda, 13 Jammu, 10 each in Rajouri and Kishtwar and two each in Kathua and Reasi districts.
With today’s positives, Jammu region now has 5401 Corona cases but, of them, only 1856 are active as 3511 patients have been treated and discharged while there have been 34 Corona casualties.
In the Union Territory of Ladakh, two persons died today of Coronavirus while 19 fresh cases were reported, all in Leh district taking the UT’s tally to 1614 including 760 in Leh and 854 in Kargil. However, active cases of Ladakh stood at 411—298 in Leh and 113 in Kargil as 1194 patients have been treated, 457 of them in Leh and 737 in Kargil.
An Army soldier died of the virus in Leh while an old woman succumbed to COVID-19 in Kargil taking total casualties in the Union Territory to nine—five in Leh and four in Kargil.
Of total positives in Ladakh, 27 are admitted in COVID hospitals, 150 were in home isolation, 104 in COVID Care Centres and 125 in Facility Isolation.