SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir 

Cases of the novel coronavirus in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir passed 10,000 on Saturday.

According to a government update, 268 more infections were recorded over the past 24 hours, raising the overall count to 10,156.

Ten more COVID-19 patients died over the same period, bringing the death toll to 169.

Official data showed that infections and fatalities have picked up over the past 10 days, with almost 3,000 cases and 69 deaths recorded since July 1.

Amid rising concern among residents, authorities are now considering imposing a lockdown in the Himalayan region.

On Saturday, Pandurang Pole, the divisional commissioner for Kashmir, said the administration received several requests for stricter measures, including from doctors and traders.

He said a decision would be taken soon after a review of the overall situation in the region.

Earlier in the day, the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation announced it would fully support the government’s decision to enforce a lockdown.

However, despite the worsening virus situation, the government is set to allow a Hindu pilgrimage in the region at the end of July.

Under a government order issued earlier this month, the administration has prohibited all social and religious gatherings, but at the same time is allowing a Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave temple in the Pahalgam area of south Kashmir.

Authorities have said the pilgrimage will be undertaken in a “restricted manner,” with 500 Hindu pilgrims allowed per day.

The pilgrimage period has been cut short from 42 days to 15, but critics and health experts warn that people coming from other Indian states hard-hit by the virus would carry infections to the region as well.

Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which has a majority Muslim population, has been under a lockdown for almost a year, with human rights groups accusing the Indian administration of oppressing the people of the disputed region, especially since taking away its special constitutional status last August.

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