As coronavirus cases spike in Kashmir, doctors fear valley has its own ‘Wuhan’

'Situation not looking good, infection might peak soon'

As coronavirus cases spike in Kashmir, doctors fear valley has its own ‘Wuhan’

Samaan Lateef
Tribune News Service
Srinagar March 29

As Kashmir added five more cases to its growing list of coronavirus patients and reported its second death on Sunday, doctors fear the valley has its own ‘Wuhan’- the epicentre of coronavirus in China.

Hajin, once a bastion of counter-insurgency militia Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, has now been called ‘Wuhan’ of Kashmir after seven of its residents tested positive for Covid-19. Fourteen others are suspected to have the disease, while 50 have been quarantined.

“Stationed at Community Health Centre (CHC) Hajin for last five days, detected seven CoVID-19 positive patients till now and another 14 suspects admitted at SKIMS with reports awaited. About 60 family members, all asymptomatic, of positive patients along with some 50-odd other suspects in quarantine, all living within a radius of 3-4 kilometres,” said Dr Muzafar Zargar, a well-known public health expert.

Zargar said: “Such is the situation at the CHC Hajin control room it seems we are the Wuhan of Kashmir Valley, pray for all of us.”

All seven patients are in the age group of 25-40 years and had a travel history to Nizamuddin shrine in New Delhi.

Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said they were contacts of the Tableegh Jamat leader, who died of CoVID-19 infection on Thursday.

However, Hajin residents said they didn’t meet the Tableegh leader in New Delhi.

The total number of cases in Jammu and Kashmir surged to 38 on Sunday. The man who died on Sunday had not travelled outside Kashmir recently, confounding doctors and giving rise to fears of a community spread of the virus.

As the number of CoVID-19 positive patients is increasing, health experts have asked the government to keep Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and six associated hospitals of Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar reserve only for patients in need of critical care, including those who need ventilatory support.

“We need to keep adequate stock of Personal Protective Equipment, portable oxygen plants, oxygen concentrators, bulk oxygen cylinders, N-95 masks, gloves, anti-retroviral drugs, anti-viral drugs,” said Prof Muhammad Salim Khan, who is head of the Community Medicine GMC Srinagar.

Khan said all those people quarantined in hotels and educational institutions need to be screened and sent back home for home quarantine under active surveillance of health officials of Integrated Disease Surveillance program IDSP).

“None of them has shown any symptoms attributed to the CoVID-19,” he said.

Hundreds of people with travel history outside Kashmir have been quarantined in various hotels and educational institutions in Srinagar.

Khan has written to the Government that Covid-19 contacts shall be put under surveillance and brought to the Covid Isolation Centre at the district hospital or sub-district hospital for testing.

“They should be sent back home immediately for home quarantine and actively followed by the IDSP for any symptoms demanding admission to Covid Isolation Centre at district or sub-district hospital level. The test reports shall be later delivered to them,” he said.

Public health expert and head of chest medicine at SKIMS, Dr Parvaiz Koul said the health infrastructure of Kashmir could not cope if Kashmir showed similar susceptibility to coronavirus like other countries in the northern hemisphere.

“Our influenza seasonality mirrors the northern hemispherical pattern seen in Western European and North American countries. I hope our temperate climate doesn’t render us similarly susceptible to COVID 19. Our health systems cannot cope,” Koul tweeted.

He said the situation was not looking good and infection might peak soon. “We need to stay home and try to minimise social interactions so that transmission is reduced. Health infrastructure already getting stretched,” he said.

Khan said the CoVID suspects shall be assessed by the physician, a sample will be collected and he will be sent home for home quarantine or isolation or kept in hospital isolation depending upon the severity of illness as supported by clinical judgement and laboratory findings.

Khan said, “We need to educate the persons under quarantine what it means, discuss Dos & Dont’s of quarantine. A person under quarantine isn’t a sick person who need medicines but social support and comfort so that they wholeheartedly accept staying in homes or designated centres/hospitals (for the high-risk category) for a definite period.”

 

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