The J&K administration is likely to extend the lockdown if the Covid curve does not plateau. (Representational photo)
The J&K administration is likely to extend the lockdown if the Covid curve does not plateau. (Representational photo)

Covid surge: ICU beds filling fast at major Srinagar hospitals

At Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar, one of the biggest hospitals treating Covid patients in the valley, 284 patients are admitted, while the tertiary care facility had earmarked only 260 beds for patients
By Mir Ehsan, Srinagar
PUBLISHED ON MAY 06, 2021 01:29 AM IST

With the continued surge in Covid-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir, the tertiary-care hospitals in Srinagar are fast running out of dedicated intensive care unit (ICU) beds.

For the past one week, four districts — Srinagar, Budgam, Baramulla and Kupwara — that are experiencing major spike in virus cases and deaths, have been under lockdown, which is likely to be extended if the situation does not improve.

“The lockdown may be extended with stricter curbs for some days as the cases are still rising, especially in Srinagar,” a senior government official said.

On Tuesday, the UT witnessed the highest number of positive cases since the pandemic outbreak in March 2020, with Srinagar recording the most (1,311) cases, followed by Jammu with 598 cases.

“Beds are filling fast at SMHS and Chest Diseases hospitals, which come under the Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar. There is a medical emergency-like situation,” said GMC nodal officer Dr Salim Khan.

Another senior GMC doctor, Salim Iqbal said that the UT is seeing over 4,000 daily cases, and this figure is more than that of some nations. “This is quite disturbing, and I pray that we all adhere to preventive measures before we see a disastrous situation.”

Notwithstanding the ground situation, the J&K administration’s daily Covid bulletin paints a rosy picture of bed occupancy at its dedicated hospitals.

As per the bulletin, till Tuesday evening, of total 116 ICU beds, 77 were vacant in Kashmir, while in Jammu, of 234 ICU beds, 103 were unoccupied. Of the 3,591 isolation beds in J&K, 1,565 were still vacant, the bulletin stated.

However, doctors say they are struggling with ICU bed availability. “Our Covid hospital at indoor stadium is now full. We have even spared a whole ward in the hospital for sick patients,” said a senior medico at Government Medical College, Baramulla, which does not have a single high-flow oxygen bed despite patients’ attendants having flagged the issue several times.

With this, the attendants are seeking help on the social media.

“My mother is admitted at SMHS. I’m in need of oxygen cylinder flow meter. Kindly do the needful,” wrote an attendant on Twitter. There are similar SoS messages on the social media. Even former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah highlighted such messages on his Twitter account.

Srinagar deputy commissioner Ajaz Asad, however, has asked people not to decide the treatment plan for patients themselves.

“Someone called me at 12.45am yesterday requesting for ICU bed. I woke up the medical superintendent of the hospital. He woke up the doctor who replied: Patient is stable on high-flow oxygen and doesn’t require a ventilator. Please don’t decide the treatment yourself. Let’s go by advice of doctors strictly,” the DC tweeted.

At Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), which is one of the biggest hospitals treating Covid patients in the valley, 284 patients are admitted, while the tertiary care facility had earmarked only 260 beds for patients. “If there is no shortage of beds, then why are people highlighting issues on social media? Either people are lying or government officials are,” said Adil Ahmad, a social activist.

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