Holding a press conference here the Srinagar administration Tuesday briefed the media about the measures it is taking in efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection in the district.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary flanked by Director SKIMS Dr AG Ahangar, Director Health Services Kashmir Dr Sameer Matoo, OSD to Financial Commissioner Health Owais Ahmad and HOD Community Medicine GMC Srinagar Dr Mohammad Saleem chaired the press conference.
The DC briefed the media about specific measures the district administration is taking to contain the spread of the infection and the overall status with regard to this emerging health situation in the district.
He said that the administration is taking this virus very seriously and as part of measures to tackle it is taking all preventive measures as recommended by the World Health Organisation and other global health organisations and experts adding that the focus of efforts in this regard is tracing and quarantining suspected cases and imposing strict restrictions on public movement and gatherings.
He said these measures started being put in place from the time of the WHO declaration of coronavirus infection as a global health emergency last month and have been strengthened since the surfacing of the first positive COVID-19 case in the district.
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He said that in the absence of a cure for the disease that contracting of this virus results in and in view of the magnitude of the toll it has taken on the world including those with the most advanced healthcare systems the administration has to take all these strict measures in efforts to break the chain of its transmission.
Dr Shahid said that people hiding their travel histories have made the administration’s job difficult which he said is evident from the increased number of positive cases – which is now three – in the district but added that a thorough surveillance mechanism has been put in place in the district to trace all such persons.
He said that around 100 persons with travel histories have been traced and put into quarantine so far adding that another 200 such persons reported to the COVID-19 control room in the district are being verified and will be put under quarantine if found true and required.
Giving details about them he said that 90 quarantine facilities have been identified and established in the district so far adding that their number is being increased in order to ensure that all those requiring quarantines can be accommodated. He said that some 1800 persons returning from outside countries so far have been accommodated in these facilities.
He said the health department and all those associated with it including doctors and paramedics and all healthcare workers are engaged in containment and treatment efforts going on round-the-clock adding that the administration is hiring hundreds of volunteers who have approached it for assisting m in measures put in place for tackling the situation in the district. He also said that one dozen NGOs have been roped in to assist the administration in its efforts to provide personal protective equipment to those requiring them.
Dr Shahid said the administration is putting in place a mechanism for home-deliveries of essential commodities to residents to enable them to stay home as much as possible as advised adding that deliveries are being started from later this week.
Director SKIMS Dr AG Ahangar while speaking on the occasion highlighted the deadliness and great transmission capabilities of the coronavirus infection and emphasised the critical importance of taking precautions and practicing social distancing at all costs.
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He explained that distancing helps break the chain of transmission which is critical to containing its spread and urged one and all to practice it along with all other precautions like frequent hand-washing and coughing and sneezing etiquettes.
Giving details of medical-care efforts that SKIMS is involved in this regard he said that 12 out 30 suspected cases have been discharged from the institution after successful treatment so far adding with happiness that the first positive case from the district – a woman from old city area – his recovering and doing very well although she will remain under medical supervision for the recommended period.
He said the institution has a 30-bedded quarantine and 10-bedded isolation facilities as of now adding that their capacities are being enhanced to 50-bedded quarantine and 20-bedded isolation. He also said that more ventilators are also being acquired as part of strengthening of facilities for treatment purposes in the institution.
Giving details about the testing he said that 57 samples have been tested for coronavirus at SKIMS so far since the facility was made available at the institution adding that 55 of them have tested negative for the virus.
Dr Shahid said that while SKIMS has a robust healthcare mechanism in place it cannot be possible to deal with it if the virus is allowed to spread. Citing Italy which has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world as an example he said no healthcare system is capable of handling the load if it grows too big adding that the example explains the need for serious measures for taking precautions to curb the spread of the infection.
He urged one and all to join hands with the administration in this fight against humanity appealing for staying home to be safe for one’s own safety and that of others. He also urged to avoid following unverified advice and taking unprescribed medication appealing for following only government advisories and the WHO guidelines and recommendations.
OSD to FC Health Owais Ahmad briefed the media about the overall efforts of the health department to enhance its preparedness to deal with the emerging situation because of this infection. He said the department is procuring all required equipment and supplies for effective handling of this health situation.
He said that the health department is also in the process of establishing more isolation facilities for treatment of patients that might get affected adding that all other requisites are also being acquired and made available as part thereof. He however stressed the importance of containing the spread of this infection in order for the healthcare apparatus to be able to deal with it.
Dr Shahid while concluding the press briefing appealed to the general public to cooperate with the administration and assist it in its efforts to break the chain of transmission and contain the spread of this infection. He made a special appeal to those with travel histories to come forward to be assessed for quarantine requirement and to mosques and other places of worship to be administration’s messengers and sensitise the general public about the importance of distancing and other precautions in these difficult times.