Srinagar: There has been a steep rise in the number of symptomatic patients of COVID-19 in the past two weeks, which has raised the fear of pandemic to new levels in the Valley, claim doctors in Kashmir.
According to official data, as many as 246 new cases were reported from the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday with a majority of 210 cases from Kashmir division and the rest from Jammu, taking the total number of cases in the region to over 8,500 cases. Of these over 3,200 persons are active cases.
The region also witnessed a spike in the number of COVID-19 deaths in the past week. Since the outbreak, over 140 persons have died after contracting the virus, a majority of them in Kashmir division and over 40 since past week, implying a sharp rise in the overall COVID-19 numbers.
Of the total deaths occurred in the region since the first death was reported in March, nearly 30% deaths have occurred in less than past two weeks, raising concern among healthcare professionals.
Dr Naved Shah, head of Chest Disease Hospital in Srinagar, said the situation continues to remain “alarming” as the number of cases continue to mount in Kashmir valley.
“Earlier, we used to receive patients that were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, but now we are admitting more sick patients,” Dr Shah told NewsClick.
Currently, at CDH, a designated COVID-19 hospital which has 20 ventilators, Dr Naved said there are as many as 80 infected persons with symptoms. “Out of these three patients are on ventilators,” Dr Shah said.
“There has been an increase in the number of symptomatic cases as the number of overall cases are also increasing. More the number of cases, there will be an increase in both symptomatic as well as asymptomatic cases,” Dr Masood Rashid, a consultant anesthesiologist said.
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Dr Masood warns that the situation is likely to worsen and that the region is heading towards a disaster. “We will get more symptomatic cases in the coming weeks and our limited resources will get exhausted. People will not even get access to oxygen as there is limited access to uninterrupted central oxygen pipeline to manage the flow of O2 as per the patient requirement,” he said.
Both Dr Naved and Dr Masood said that there is an increase in the number of cases in Kashmir as people are not adhering to the guidelines and social distancing norms.
Consultant pediatrician Dr Suhail Naik, who is president of the Doctor’s Association Kashmir (DAK), told NewsClick that people in the region have stopped taking the infection seriously even as the number of cases are rising.
“It is urgent that people realise that the virus has not left us and it is a reality. The situation is grim and given the indications, there will be more cases and more deaths in coming months,” Dr Naik said.
After the restrictions were eased in the region weeks ago, with the return of economic activity, people in the Valley have been thronging the market places and have even been participating in religious as well as social gatherings in several areas. There has been an apparent fall in adherence to social distancing norms across the region. This, Dr Naik said, is a result of people’s “complacency” and “belief in hoaxes and conspiracy theories.”
“There is a need for awareness among people as the disease in making its way through the community.There is a need for people to avoid delusions as we are heading towards a critical situation,” he said.
The adherence to social distancing norms and precautions has decreased to a great extent in Kashmir, many say, as a result of various government actions carried since even before lockdown restrictions were relaxed.
A resident of Srinagar, who requested anonymity, told NewsClick that the government’s hot pursuit of militants and introduction of Domicile Laws and announcement of tourism has fueled people’s complacency.
“The encounters have increased, then the government introduced domicile law and now they are planning to facilitate Yatra. We have also come to know that tourism will start and parks will open. You do that and ask people to stop praying in mosques, people are bound to take orders with a pinch of salt,” he said.