Doctors Declare It Loud And Clear: ‘Carelessness Will Doom Us’

 Doctor displaying X-ray of Pneumonia patient in SMHS Hospital. KO Pics by Special Arrangement.

As the second wave of Covid is threatening to impose another lockdown in Kashmir, health workers are saying that if we don’t act now when more and more young people are getting affected, our hospitals will soon run out of space and hope.

THE doctors working in valley’s tertiary-care hospitals have painted the grim picture of the second wave of Covid-19 saying that more and more young people are getting affected due to the virus.

“When you see a 27 years old, a 32 years old, a 21 years old die within a span of few days, due to pneumonia and its complications, it sends a shiver down the spine, a kind of remorse and fear which cannot be expressed in words,” posted Dr. Irtifa Kanth, Resident Medicine at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) on his Facebook account.

On Wednesday, Dr. Kanth said more than 30 patients with respiratory symptoms were admitted in SMHS and among them around 10-12 young patients with pneumonias.

“We are seeing proportionally increased numbers of young people getting severe Covid disease this time as compared to last year, however elderly still make up higher numbers,” Dr. Kanth told Kashmir Observer.

The reason for this, Dr Kanth believes is possibly more “potent” strain.

“Moreover,” he said, “young people have increased amount of exposure.”

Many other doctors who are dealing with the Covid-19 patients at the valley’s primary tertiary-care hospital, echoes the comments of Dr. Kanth saying more young people are becoming victims of the deadly virus.

“Then you see groups of young people gather around a carrom board, without masks, without care for the future. It brings such disgust which again cannot be expressed in words,” Dr, Kanth added in his Facebook Post.

On 17 April, the SMHS shut down its out-patient department (OPD) services in the wake of the spike in Covid-19 cases in the erstwhile state.

The administration designated various wards including isolation/drug de-addiction centre, paid rooms, MICU, SICU, and disaster management ward as Covid-19 wards.

However, the doctors posted in the hospital have raised the alarm bells regarding the situation and have warned that the situation in Kashmir may be like other states of India where the virus has wreaked havoc.

“If people of Kashmir could witness what we are dealing with right now in SMHS, they wouldn’t come out of their houses,” posted Dr. Aatif Sanaie, another Junior Resident Medicine of the hospital on his twitter account.

Reacting to the tweet, mechanical engineer Tahir Peerzada, replied, “It’s a horrifying situation. I have been fighting it out since 15 days, with people infected. Please don’t take it easy, stay home as far as you can. The situation is really alarming.”

Dr. Sanaie told Kashmir Observer that, although the admin converted almost 50% for covid 19 positive/suspected patients, however they are getting filled rapidly.

“And it’s scary to see more patients below 40 with pneumonia every day. The oxygen demand is increasing,” he said. “If the situation remains the same, Kashmir will be another Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.”

Dr. Sanaie said people need to take the virus seriously and behave maturely. Wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and avoiding large gatherings is the only solution, he stressed.

Also, the doctors observe that in the second wave of pandemic they are witnessing patients without comorbidities.

“Last year we had patients with multiple comorbidities and patients above 60-years of age were presenting with Covid 19 pneumonia but this year there is no such bar,” Dr. Sanaie said.

As per a senior SMHS medico, the hospital gets around 30-40 patients of pneumonia every day and about 50-70 per cent of them come out to be Covid positive.

“However as per the symptomatology and radiological features, almost all qualify as Covid pneumonias,” he said. “Many positive cases are unreported because people get positive on rapid antigen test (RAT) kits at home.”

“If we remain careless, we are bound to be doomed,” he added.

The administration on its part admits that the situation is challenging but maintains it’s not out of control adding that they are working on a 5-pronged strategy to contain the spread of coronavirus in J&K.

Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo in a press conference on Wednesday said that J&K has made ample preparations to meet the challenge.

Elaborating, Dulloo said that intense testing including that of travellers and other suspects is being done at a rapid pace followed by a containment process that includes contact tracing and several restrictions are in force.

He expressed satisfaction that unlike previous year, this year there is one more weapon in their arsenal: Covid vaccine.

“We have 13,400 active cases with a good recovery rate of 89.6% and mortality rate of just 1.38%,” Dulloo said. “There are around 120 containment zones and effective mechanism of contact tracing in place. Some 1,64,000 contacts were traced this year with all the required restrictions applied to contain the spread of this disease.”

However, the scenes at the hospitals are different, where doctors are witness to the “brutal face” of pandemic.

Dr. Khawar Khan, a Senior Resident Medicine posted at SMHS, mapped this crisis in his tweet: “COVID has returned hard. The scenes in the hospital are disheartening. A young couple lying side by side, both COVID positive. It was heart wrenching how the husband was checking the oxygen saturation of his wife when his own saturation was only 80% and he was gasping while doing it.”

A doctor posted in SKIMS, Soura, told Kashmir Observer that the hospital is well-equipped to deal with the Covid but maintained that if the situation remains the same, they can’t handle the crisis.

“Last couple of weeks, we have admitted around 20-30 patients per day and it is also the fact that there are a good number of patients below 40 with Covid symptoms,” the doctor said.

He argued that one of the reasons for that might be the government’s decision to throw parks and gardens open for sightseeing. “We lately witnessed a mad rush of tourists at Tulip garden, making many of us prone to the infection now,” he added.

After recording over 2000 Covid cases in a day, the government’s 50 percent business lockdown drew flak from traders in Kashmir.

But while more effective methods are being explored with the civil society’s support to deal with the Covid crisis, Kashmir hospitals are only witnessing another phase of health emergency.

“So many are being detected positives each day,” said Nusrat, an overburdened nurse posed in a Srinagar hospital. “If we don’t act now and take necessary precautions, our hospitals will soon run out of space and hope.”

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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