Is Kashmir Expecting Third Wave of COVID-19?

By Tabia Masoodi, Al-Misda Masoom

WITH the return of Covid curfew in parts of Srinagar, there’s a fear of third wave in Kashmir.

Even as Deputy Commissioner Aijaz Asad claims that he won’t let Srinagar become another Covid capital, medical experts are warning that there might be a third wave, which could be disastrous for the valley.

Headman of Kashmir’s premier health institute, Dr. AG Ahangar says that there has been a continuous surge in positive cases for the last two weeks.

“And it’s a direct indication of the third phase of Covid-19,” he warned.

In an exclusive chat with Kashmir Observer, Director SKIMS bats for the strict Covid protocol to keep the third viral wave at bay.

 Dr A G Ahangar

Are we expecting the third wave of Covid-19?

The third wave of Covid is literally at our doorsteps as there has been a continuous surge in positive cases for the last two weeks.

And it’s a direct indication of the third phase of CoVID-19.

How prepared is Kashmir for another viral wave?

People have lowered their guard, including a lot of professionals. Covid appropriate behaviour is not being observed. Social gatherings have become the order of the day.

With this behaviour, the third wave is inevitable.

If Covid SOPs are not followed, the catastrophe is bound to happen. Everyone has to work collectively to stop this from happening.

We’ve to shift to the e-mode of life as much as possible and it’s better to follow the same restrictive lines. We’ve to live with virtual reality rather than physical reality.

In case of third wave, how prepared is SKIMS?

Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) has done a good job in the previous phases of Covid-19. We made sure everything needed was available, be it medical oxygen or drugs particularly Remdesivir.

Our figures in Covid management have been beyond our expectations. We aspire to do the same for the third wave as well.

Since Covid disrupts the normal healthcare system, what’s the status of the availability of critical drugs in Kashmir’s premier medical institute?

We’re always ready to combat any situation, be it pandemic or otherwise.

SKIMS, let me tell you, is not only a hospital but also a medical university. By virtue of that, it’s also a huge research establishment. And because of that, all the drugs need to be available 24/7 for the efficient management of the patients.

But to answer your question, yes, all the critical drugs are available in SKIMS-own pharmacy department and two more establishments in the vicinity, one named AMRIT, a central government-funded agency that keeps all the drugs available all the time.

But then some patients are complaining about the unavailability of these drugs?

See, there’s a huge difference between public perception and reality. The fact that this institution handles more than 20,000 patients every day with in-patients, outdoor-patients and emergencies, is in itself a success story.

SKIMS can cater to such a huge rush of patients at OPD every day by the availability of these drugs and equipment.

Also, the availability of drugs is a constant supply chain that we’re all the time worried about. There may be some shortages sometimes but we always ensure the availability of all such items, be it related to critical care or non-critical care.

In these distressing times, why’re patients complaining about the problems they face while trying to avail the facilities of Golden card in SKIMS?

Let me tell you, the benefits of the Golden card have been extended to over 27 crore patients by this institution in the last year. Out of which the institution has a liability of Rs. four crores.

But yes, the benefits of these cards were only limited to the people who were falling below the poverty line. But now the scheme has been amended under Sehat and everyone can avail its benefits.

There’re some restrictions to the benefits provided by the card; some high-end investigations like PET scans, certain surgeries are not covered in it.

But all such things are continuously debated and deliberated and in the days to come the scheme will be all the more successful and remove all the limitations.

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