Srinagar: A 65-year-old resident of Srinagar's uptown Hyderpora became the first coronavirus-infected person to die in Kashmir here on Thursday, two days after he was tested positive for the disease.
"Sad News: First death due to Coronavirus- 65 years old Male from Hyderpora Srinagar. Four of his contacts also tested positive yesterday," senior government official Rohit Kansal tweeted.
As many as four cases in North Kashmir's Bandipora district were confirmed to be positive after they had come in contact with the deceased victim. The total number of confirmed cases in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is 11 of which only one patient has recovered so far. As many as 80 patients have been hospitalised in the region since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The deceased patient had a travel history and was confirmed positive more than a week after he arrived in Srinagar. In the meantime, he had met several of his extended family members, friends in his locality and from his home village in Sopore as well. The authorities have identified over 100 persons who had been in contact with the deceased since he arrived on March 16.
With a medical history of illness with diabetes and hypertension, the patient was admitted at Srinagar's Chest Disease (CD) hospital where he breathed his last after suffering a cardiac arrest, according to an official statement.
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The authorities including the medical staff of JVC Bemina, where the deceased had gone for check-up, claimed that the deceased had "lied" about his travel history. He was reportedly affiliated with Islamic outreach outfit Tabhleeghi Jamaat and had travelled to various Indian states to attend Jamaat gatherings. His family, however, refuted the claim, stating that people are being misled about his international travel. "It is quite unfortunate that we are being victimised for hiding the travel history which is absolutely baseless," a relative of the deceased shared from his social media profile.
Following the incident, the UT administration has ordered an inquiry into alleged medical negligence of the coronavirus case.
The authorities in the region are apprehensive that the number of cases could be much higher and medical experts in the region have claimed that the region will report an increased number of cases by the end of March. Over a hundred travelers in the region, the officials claimed, have lied about their travel history putting the lives of others in danger. Many were later identified and put under quarantine by the authorities while the number, they added, could be even higher putting the population at greater risk.
In the wake of the outbreak, the medical and paramedic staff working across the region claimed they are ill-equipped with personal protection equipment like suits, gloves, masks and eye protection gear. The inadequate system has also put doctors especially in rural hospitals at risk as nearly a dozen doctors have been exposed to positive cases without protection gear.
"We are lacking basic facilities like masks...when we are most vulnerable to the pandemic. We are at a greater risk here," a paramedic from SMHS hospital told NewsClick.
The first positive case was reported from Kashmir on March 18, after an elderly woman from Downtown who arrived in Srinagar on March 16 from a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia tested positive. Since then, authorities have put the region under a severe lockdown and over 200 people have been booked for violating the lockdown in the union territory.
Meanwhile, the authorities in the region have also ordered closure of religious places to control any religious gathering in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
"Closing of religious places which attract gatherings is an important step to save a whole population. Let’s stay indoors, stay safe to be able to worship again," said Deputy Commissioner Shahid Choudhary.
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in deaths of over 21,000 patients and over 4.7 lakh people have been infected by the disease. There are more global reports of positive cases than in mainland China. where the disease originated from. Italy, Spain, China and Iran are some of the worst-hit countries with highest numbers of reported deaths. Following the outbreak, which has crumbled the global healthcare system, governments across the world have ordered lockdowns to ensure social distancing to thwart the spread of the disease.
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