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Jammu and Kashmir doctor asks social groups to prepare for 2nd Covid-19 wave

ByMir Ehsan
Apr 22, 2021 06:55 PM IST

There are dozens of voluntary organisations supplying oxygen concentrators and other equipment to the needy across the UT, especially in Srinagar.

Baramulla government medical hospital superintendent raised an alarm on Thursday, asking social organisations and religious groups to prepare to deal with the possibility of the second Covid-19 wave overwhelming the health infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, as witnessed in pockets of states such as Maharashtra and Delhi. His post on social media created a flutter and received backing from a few other prominent personalities at a time when senior officials have said there was no need to panic.

Srinagar, India – April 21: A man receives a shot of a Covid-19 vaccine in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times)

“All Masjid / Mohalla committees should arrange oxygen facilities in their respective mohallas instead of other community requirements this time. A disastrous wave is on its way. This little time should be used to build these small domiciliary facilities which will help the system from overloading,” Syed Masood, superintendent Government Medical College (GMC) hospital Baramulla wrote on social media on Thursday. The post was widely shared and evoked a response from some organisations who said they were following up on the advice.

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There are dozens of voluntary organisations supplying oxygen concentrators and other equipment to the needy across the UT, especially in Srinagar. Mudasir Naqashbandi, an advocate who runs Khidmat Foundation has been arranging oxygen for Covid patients. He claims there is a “worst kind of shortage of concentrators” in north Kashmir claiming the demand has increased “abruptly”. “We are appealing to people to help us in purchasing new oxygen concentrators, we don’t want a condition [as seen in] other places... in Kashmir. [Other places are] facing shortage of oxygen and we can’t afford to lose our people due to oxygen supply.”

On Wednesday at least 22 Covid patients died in a municipality-run hospital in Maharashtra’s Nashik due to leakage of oxygen . Several hospitals in Delhi and Maharashtra have raised alarm over oxygen supplies reaching critical levels presenting a life-threatening risk to patients.

“We still have days... we can plug the gaps in the system. The government and people should take this very seriously, otherwise we could also land in trouble like other states of the country, where patients are dying for want of oxygen,” said a senior doctor posted at government medical college (GMC) Srinagar, who didn’t wish to be named.

With 2,204 fresh cases, Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday again reported the highest ever daily count of infections since the outbreak. The number of cases recorded in the first 20 days of April in the second wave this year reached 21,482 – the second highest after September, 2020, when the first wave peaked. Total number of Covid-19 positive cases in the UT has reached 152,442. Three deaths in Kashmir and 10 in Jammu were reported on Wednesday, taking the total death to 2,084, health officials said. This is the highest daily death count in the UT since the first week of October.

Last week, medical superintendent, GMC Anantnag, Dr Iqbal said his hospital was left with no vacant ICU beds for Covid patients. The GMC Anantnag caters to the entire south Kashmir. On Tuesday, director SKIMS (Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences) AG Ahangar claimed Remdesivir injection- used to treat severe cases- was running short for the past two days.

However, on Tuesday, financial commissioner, health Atal Dulloo ruled out a shortage of any medicine including Remdesivir and assured that there were sufficient beds and oxygen across the UT. On the same day Jammu and Kashmir’s top pulmonologist Dr Javaid Malik said the UT was better prepared than last year, however, he also stressed the need to develop health infrastructure in “a big way” across the union territory to meet the “future” emergencies.

Another senior government official in the valley, divisional commissioner Pandurang K Pole, said not even 30% of the 1,500 Covid beds available in level 1 and level 2 health facilities in the UT were occupied. Another official, who didn’t wish to be named, said six wards at the government-run Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar were designated as Covid wards, similarly, more than 100 beds at the Covid centre created at the indoor stadium at Baramulla have been made operational and more beds have been designated for treatment of Covid-19 patients at the SKIMS.

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