Srinagar: Strict restrictions on the movement and assembly of people in Kashmir were in place for the 25th consecutive day on Sunday to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, as the deputy commissioners have been directed to enforce a round-the-clock lockdown in the Valley, officials said.
They, however, said the curbs were tightened across the valley after Baseer Ahmad Khan, the adviser to the lieutenant governor and incharge of coronavirus control efforts in Kashmir division, directed deputy commissioners to enforce 24/7 strict lockdown in their respective districts.
Khan issued these directions while chairing a high-level meeting on Saturday to review the arrangements and preparedness to combat deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Valley, the officials said.
The adviser directed the deputy commissioners to plug all loopholes immediately and take strict action against those who try to violate the lockdown.
Khan asked the deputy commissioners to involve religious heads so that they can advise their followers against holding any congregations and spread awareness about observing social-distancing norms to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19.
Following the directive, the security forces sealed off main roads in most places in the Valley and erected barriers at several other places to check the unwanted movement of the people, the officials said.
Only persons with valid passes were allowed to move. The markets across the Valley were shut and public transport was off the roads, with only pharmacies and groceries allowed to open, according to the officials.
Educational institutions across Kashmir are closed, while all public places, including gymnasiums, parks, clubs and restaurants, were shut down more than a week before the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While the Prime Minister announced the lockdown on March 24, the union territory administration had on March 22 declared it across Jammu and Kashmir till March 31 as part of its efforts to contain the spread of the pathogen.
Restrictions were first imposed in many parts of the valley on March 19 to contain the spread of the deadly infection after the detection of the first positive case in the Valley.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the union territory has risen to 224, out of which 180 were in Kashmir and 44 in Jammu. Four have died, while six recovered. More than 48,000 people have been kept under surveillance.
The government has marked 77 red zones — 12 in Jammu and 65 in Kashmir — for containing COVID-19 and tracking the suspects at the earliest.