Alarming situation in Kashmir, manifold increase in COVID critical cases

Medicos favour strict lockdown to arrest trend

Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar, July 11: The Novel Coronavirus situation in Kashmir is alarming as there has been manifold increase in critical patients with large number of them suffering from bilateral pneumonia and desperately needing oxygen support.
Dr Nisarul Hassan, Associate Professor at the Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, told Excelsior that virus was behaving very mildly in Kashmir so far but for last few weeks have shown a sharp surge in positive cases, deaths and critical cases reporting to the hospitals.
When asked about reasons for the sudden upsurge, Dr Nisar said that that there is a possible change in the Novel Coronavirus behaviour. “For the first time since March we are seeing that a large number of people with bilateral pneumonia are being admitted to the hospitals. The virus strain needs an immediate lab test about the possible mutation,” he said.
He blamed lack of awareness among people and gross violations of COVID-19 SOPs and lifting of restrictions by Government for the surge. “If people are violating SOPs, it is the duty of administration to force it. It is a war like situation and administration has to act tough”, he added.
“It was shocking for me as out of 40 admissions in SMHS hospitals from my OPD with COVID-19 symptoms there were 32 who had bilateral pneumonia and were in desperate need of oxygen. Some of them were young with no underlying ailments. Some of them even needed ventilator support which is very alarming and a serious issue,” he said.
“Earlier we had 80 percent COVID-19 positive asymptomatic patients or others were having very mild disease among which rarely anyone required oxygen, that too who was having underlying medical conditions,” he said.
Dr Mohammad Saleem Khan, HoD, and Nodal Officer for COVID-19 in Government Medical College Srinagar said that situation is alarming as after the lockdown was lifted infection has spread. He said that now young people with no underlying ailments are reporting with COVID-19 symptoms.
Dr Saleem said lot of people in Srinagar have compromised immunity and they are more vulnerable Novel Coronavirus. “They include 10 percent people who are diabetic and equal number are pre diabetic, 25-30 percent have hypertension, 10 percent among adolescents have pre- hypertension and overall one third of the population has compromised immunity”, he said.
The Nodal Officer said that hardly few people were symptomatic till last month and now 60 percent admissions need oxygen. He said that SOPS need to be followed in letter and spirit if the infection is to be prevented from spreading.
Medical Superintendent of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura Dr Farooq Jan told Excelsior that maximum number of COVID-19 positive cases admitted at the hospital are sick and are being continuously provided with the oxygen supply.
“As of now, I can tell you that there are 2-3 COVID-19 positive patients that are on ventilator support and the rest (maximum, I am telling you), had to be given oxygen supply in order to help them in maintaining their oxygen level,” he said.
Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo, told Excelsior that the situation is alarming but it is upto administration to decide about the restrictions. He said that reason behind the surge is that the SOPs including restrictions in Red Zones, social distancing and wearing of masks are not being followed.
When asked about bed capacity for COVID-19 patients in case of more surge, Dulloo said that they have 21, 000 beds including 3500 with oxygen facilities. “It can be increased if need arises”, he added.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, said that situation is alarming as earlier there were one or two contacts of a COVID-19 patients who tested positive and now there are around 20.
When asked about re-imposition of lockdown in Srinagar, he said that a meeting of the administration and police was called and final call will be taken tomorrow.