As cases jump in Kashmir, experts warn of collapsing healthcare systems sans lockdown
With no let-up Covid-19 cases in Kashmir, health experts have warned that hospitals could “crumble under pressure” if the administration doesn’t go for another lockdown soon.
In the past week, more than 1,000 cases have been reported from different districts of Kashmir and every day five to six people succumb to the disease in hospitals, which many doctors have termed as an alarming situation, especially when patients reach hospitals with the signs of bilateral pneumonia.
Some doctors have already written to the administration for imposition of a phased lockdown in the valley to bring down the cases.
Head of social and preventive medicine department Dr Salim Khan said the current spike in moderate to severe Covid-19 cases and rising number of deaths is an indication that we are moving towards a catastrophic phase of no return with considerable quantum of severe morbidity, while our hospitals continue to get overwhelmed at this incipient stage. “This could lead to considerable mortality within and outside hospitals. We have very limited resources in the government sector to cater to severe cases with no back up from the private sector,” he cautioned.
Khan, who is also the nodal officer for Covid-19, said all covid-dedicated hospitals are fully occupied with moderate to severe cases in majority. “The chest diseases hospital in Srinagar has over 75% cases with moderate and severe conditions and 5-10% critical patients,” he said.
“There is an urgent need to revisit the lockdown relaxation policy and a strict re-enforcement of the same is quintessential if we have to salvage our limited health resources. Else, no effort will be sufficient to prevent deaths among the vulnerable population,” he warned.
Besides Khan, at least a dozen health experts and medicos working in different hospitals across Kashmir have flagged the issue and asked people to take it seriously.
“Now we are in the more serious stage, but there is no lockdown. With people not following SOPs like wearing masks in public, the outcome could be catastrophic,” said a senior consultant posted at Government Medical College and Hospital in Baramulla.
“We get around a dozen cases with pneumonia and other symptoms related to Covid-19. We send them to Srinagar hospitals, but they are not admitted as they are not tested prior to it. Compared to the past, we are getting many more suspected cases,” the senior consultant revealed.
“Despite these warnings, neither people nor top administrative officials seem to have taken the issue seriously as the latter recently decided to open parks and gardens in the city,” said Mir Faheem, a Srinagar resident.
Meanwhile, when asked why Kashmir had far more cases than Jammu division, Kashmir health services director Dr Samir Mattoo said, “Travellers (returnees) to Kashmir are far more and our testing rate is also very high. These are the basic reasons for more positive cases in the valley.”
A senior doctor from Jammu said, “The population of Kashmir is more than Jammu’s and the regions bear different climatic conditions. Lifestyle disorders are higher in the valley. As per a study, Kashmiris tend to have higher cholesterol levels than their counterparts in Jammu and the valley people are more habitual of smoking.”