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March 5, 2020 11:50 pm

Coronavirus Alert In Kashmir: 162 ‘Under Scanner’, 5 Admitted In SKIMS


Coronavirus isolation ward at Srinagar hospital. KO Pic : Abid Bhat

SRINAGAR – Five persons with a recent history of travelling to coronavirus-affected countries have been put in the isolation ward of the SKIMS hospital here, while as many as 162 people are under surveillance in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, said a report on Thursday.

Dr Shafqat Khan, designated Nodal Officer said that 230 people, who have recently travelled outside the UT, are presently under the surveillance. While 162 of them are from Valley, the rest are from Jammu region, Khan told a local news agency GNS.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Kashmir have kept five persons with a recent history of travelling to coronavirus-affected countries in the isolation ward of the SKIMS hospital here after they showed symptoms of the disease, officials said.

“We have kept the five persons in the isolation ward at the SKIMS hospital in Soura,” they said.

The officials added that samples of the suspects were collected and sent for testing to the National Institute of Virology in Pune.

Of the five, one had travelled to Thailand while two had been to Iran, they said, adding that the remaining two had a recent travel history to the epicentre of COVID-19 in China’s Wuhan.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration took several steps on Wednesday as part of its efforts to control the spread of coronavirus, after a sudden spike in the number of positive cases in the country.

National Health Mission Director Bhupinder Kumar was appointed as the in-charge of the coronavirus control efforts in the Union territory, an order issued by the General Administration Department said.

The divisional commissioners of the Kashmir and Jammu regions have been made in-charge of the programme in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The government has directed officials to set up detection centres at all entry points, including airports and railway stations.

Besides creation of quarantine and isolation facilities, the government has also directed for a proper surveillance of those put under home quarantine.

2 Suspects Flee From Jammu Hospital, Brought Back

Two people, who had a travel history to coronavirus-hit Italy and South Korea, fled from a Jammu-based government hospital’s isolation ward, but were brought back, officials said on Thursday.

They were admitted to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. Samples were taken and sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, they said.

There was adequate hospital security outside the isolation ward, but relatives of one of the persons “forcefully” took their patient with them after which the other also fled, a senior GMCH official said.

They “fled” on late Wednesday night, the official said.

The two persons were brought back and admitted to the GMCH on Thursday, Dr Shafqat Khan, who has been nominated by the government as the nodal officer for coronavirus prevention in Jammu and Kashmir, told PTI.

If the samples taken from them test positive of coronavirus, they will be quarantined, officials said, adding that no positive cases of the virus have been found in the Union Territory.

Symptomatic people have been instructed for home quarantine, they said.

The number of coronavirus cases in India is 29, including 16 Italians, the government has said, adding all international passengers will now be screened at airports, amid growing concern over the spread of the respiratory infection.

People have been advised not to panic as there is no truth in the information being circulated on social media about the death of one person in the Union Territory, the officials said.

Jammu and Kashmir has been put on alert to deal with any threat emerging due to coronavirus, they said.

“People are urged not be give ear to rumours. There is nothing to panic,” Khan said.

Officials said around 200 people who have travel history to coronavirus-affected countries or had contact with people from such countries have been identified.

Twenty-one suspected cases have been tested till date and “no positive case has been reported so far across J-K”, a senior official said.

He said a “100 per cent self-declaration at the airports of Jammu and Srinagar will start from Thursday to trace any such person having travel history to the affected countries.”

“Further, check points for passengers travelling by road have been set up at Lakhanpur and Lower Munda (Zig) to identify individuals with travel history to these countries,” the official said.

Financial Secretary in the Health Department Atul Dulloo reviewed arrangements at the GMCH during a visit to the hospital.

Round-the-clock data control centres have been established at Srinagar and Jammu to receive information on travellers coming from coronavirus-affected countries, Principal Secretary for Planning and Information Rohit Kansal said.

He added that all suspected cases are being managed as per protocols.

The government on Thursday appointed officers to ramp up efforts for prevention of novel coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bhupinder Kumar, Mission Director, National Health Mission (NHM), J&K, will be the overall in-charge of the coronavirus control efforts in the Union Territory, according to an order.

Kumar will work under the supervision of the financial commissioner of the health department

The order also states that Shafqat Khan will work under the supervision of the mission director.

Divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners and chief medical officers will be in-charge of their respective areas, as per the order.

They will ensure detection at airports and railway stations, and take steps to created adequate facilities for isolation of suspected cases.

Govt Orders Private Hospitals To Set Up Isolation Wards

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 30 across India, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday directed all private hospitals to establish isolation wards immediately to meet any challenge in wake of the looming threat.

The directions in this regard were passed by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan during a meeting to review preventive measures put in place to meet COVID-19 threat, an official handout said. Khan directed private hospitals to set up isolation wards immediately with all necessary facilities and share real time information with Director Health services and district administration of any suspected case.

Khan asked concerned officers, private hospitals, hoteliers, house boat owners should adopt collective approach against the Coronavirus threat.

“All hoteliers, house boat owners and transporters were directed to share the ill health profile of outsiders, if any, immediately to the nearby health institutions,” the handout read.

The meeting was also informed that isolation wards have been earmarked in each district hospitals, SKIMS and other health institutions. Maternity Home, Sanat Nagar, Srinagar has already been designated as Isolation Hospital where strict quarantine with every facility put in place.

“Apart from every assistance, Microbiology Department of Govt Medical College Srinagar also provides staff and logistics for carrying out sample collection of suspected cases,” the official statement said.

It added that for screening of passengers and tourists arriving daily by air to Srinagar, five help desks have been established at the Srinagar Airport with adequate number of doctors, paramedical staff, infra-red thermometers, viral kits, personal protection gears, special ambulances and other equipments.

“Screening Camps were established at various places on National Highway,” the handout added.

It was further informed that daily surveillance of Respiratory Tract Infection cases including OPD in ten districts are going on, Rapid Response Teams (RRT) are in place in every district, samples collected, Data is analyzed, Cluster cases are investigated and other necessary measures on ground round the clock.

The Meeting was further informed that there is no need to panic and Health institutions are ready to tackle any exigency. Health departments were stressed to launch a wide campaign for the masses regarding precautions against Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Additional Commissioner Kashmir Bilal Ahmad Bhat, Director Health Services Dr Sameer Mattoo, Representatives of Private Hospitals, Hoteliers and other concerned officials also attended the meeting.

Ready To Combat COVID-19: DAK

The Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Thursday appealed the government to arrange separate OPDs, outpatient entry and waiting area and wards for people suffering from flu like illness.

In a statement issued here, President DAK Dr Suhail Naik said the doctor’s body is satisfied over concrete measures taken by the government to prevent the entry of coronavirus into Jammu and Kashmir and the people should not panic but stay calm

“The health department, doctors and paramedics are prepared to immediately activate the highest level of emergency response mechanisms for early containment of a COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.

He said in light of knowledge gained from Wuhan in China on the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical measures against COVID-19, like rapid detection, large scale case isolation and quarantine of contacts, the spread of virus can be contained.

He urged people to begin now to enforce the rigorous application of infection prevention and control measures at homes, offices and schools.

“The dire need of hour is that doctors mass media, teachers, preachers and community leaders should educate the general population’s about of COVID-19,  it’s mode of transmission and basic methods to prevent it from spreading,” Dr Naik said.

He appealed to administration to arrange separate OPDs, outpatient entry and waiting area and wards for people suffering from flu like illness.

“The separation will help check spread of flu inside hospitals by ending intermingling of the crowd. Doctors, nurses and attendants will be present to take the swabs too if need arises,” he said.

DAK President urged people to stay calm saying that there was nothing to panic.

“But it is important to recognize that COVID-19 is a new and concerning disease, but still outbreaks can be managed with the right response,” it said.

Meanwhile, DAK held an emergency meeting in which 28 coronavirus positive cases that have been found in India were discussed .

Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO), DAK said there have been 89,527 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,056 deaths reported globally in 67 countries.

In the emergency meeting attended by senior doctors, the medicos advised people to take following measures to prevent spread of flu and coronavirus viruses.

Wash your hands frequently:

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

At time of fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

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