A hotspot in first wave, Shopian’s Hirpora village now Covid-free
Once a hotspot of coronavirus during the first wave, Hirpora village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district has emerged mostly unscathed in the second and more devastating spate of the pandemic.
People have been actively taking the necessary precautions to prevent the contagion from spreading after learning from last year’s mistakes, while the administration also undertook intensive vaccination campaigns from the get-go for the 45-plus age group.
“Last year it was a Covid hotspot, but this year we saw only a few cases as people took precautions and followed all the SOPs. They wore masks, maintained social distance and good hand hygiene,” said Shopian chief medical officer Dr Arshid Hussain Tak.
Hirpora, around 65km from summer capital Srinagar, is a hilly village on the Mughal Road connecting Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu division with Shopian in south Kashmir. It has a population of around 3,000.
Tak said that most people here are fruit farmers, while others are small-time shopkeepers.
From the very beginning of the second wave, said Tak, the administration aggressively vaccinated the people aged 45 and above in the village.
“Within two weeks of the start of vaccination in April, we inoculated all the 600 people in the 45plus age group here,” he said.
There is a lot of movement of travellers through the area, owing to its location on the highway.
“Currently, the village has no active cases despite our aggressive testing campaign. It is situated along the Mughal Road and all the passengers are tested while passing through the area. Passengers turn out to be positive at times, but the villagers are safe right now,” he said.
The medic informed that there were 110 cases in the village last year when it was declared a red zone. “This year, hardly 12 cases were recorded, with most of them being travellers,” he said.
Shopian is the first district in Kashmir to have vaccinated 100 percent of its population above 45 years of age with the first dose.
“We are the first in the union territory to achieve 100 percent first dose coverage of 45-plus age group. Our positivity rate in the second wave is less than three percent while the mortality rate is 0.1 percent,” Tak said.
Shopian is the least affected out of the 10 districts of Kashmir valley in terms of Covid-19 cases and fatalities. Overall, the district has recorded 5,466 infections and 57 deaths till June 9 – amounting to less than three percent of Kashmir cases (1.87 lakh) and deaths (2,118). The district has the second lowest active cases of 569 after Bandipora district.