Taking a dig at poor healthcare facilities in Kashmir, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) Sunday said COVID-19 is an impending threat with high case fatality rate, demanding the government to wake up and designate coronavirus hospitals in the valley and procure ventilators before it is too late.
President DAK, Dr Suhail Naik said as, on March 20, coronavirus virus has been confirmed in more than 265,000 individuals worldwide, caused 11,000 deaths and affected more than 160 countries.
Dr Naik said that there is the threat of Covid-19 in Kashmir as one case is already positive from Srinagar and for every one positive case there might be as many as 20 undetected cases in the community because the testing rate is infrequent and disease spectrum is broad ranging from pre-symptomatic, asymptomatic, carrier, mild respiratory catarrhal to respiratory failure.
He said though the administration has taken measures by imposing timely restrictions and forced social distancing among masses and this is definitely going to break the communicability chain of Covid-19, therefore, community transmission.
“The restrictions will give ample time to administration to prepare on a war footing basis for stage 3. They should upgrade the health system particularly by making available respiratory support system as Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory emergency,” it said.
Dar Naik said that Kashmir has nearly one hundred ventilators and all of them remain occupied at any point of time and it is very difficult for desired patients to get one.
“Our health care system has fragilities and we don’t have even evolved the private health sector in Jammu and Kashmir. Now, in addition to the perennial challenge, if we face an immediate crisis we can collapse as an institution. The health infrastructure in Kashmir is overburdened and it can’t take the extra load and will crumble with any unprecedented crisis,” he said.
DAK said that it is the bitter truth and people must know that in Kashmir even a cancer patient gets appointment after months and the facilities are not up to the mark.
“It is for the government for making preparations to cope with a third-stage outbreak of the coronavirus. And government must identify ample space in major private city hospitals, an army hospital, hotels to expand bed capacity,” DAK said.
It said the immediate expansion is must at newly upgraded five medical colleges and in district and sub-district hospitals to manage patients with mild to moderate illness which forms the major cohort of patients.
“Further there must be dedicated COVID-19 critical care units in hospitals with round the clock oxygen supply, with ventilators and trained critical care specialists,” DAK said.
The CDC has postulated that this situation could result in large numbers of patients requiring medical care concurrently, resulting in overloaded public health and healthcare systems and, potentially, elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths.
DAK appealed the government to arrange Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers and N-95 masks.
“It is very unfortunate that government has failed to provide sanitizers and PPE to health workers and thereby putting their lives and families to risk of death,” it said.
“How can a doctor manage a respiratory patient when he knows Covid-19 is a fatal virus with fast transmission spreading like wildfire. With non-availability of PPE, there is a threat that we may lose our colleagues, their family members and rest will develop psychological disturbances and depression,” DAK said.
The doctor’s body said that it is mandatory to frame rotational duty roaster of health workers so that the frontline health force is not exposed to the dreaded virus.
“We must understand that Covid-19 can’t be fought by doing paperwork but by a pragmatic approach and by making our health care system strong,” DAK said.
In Italy, China and Iran have lost a large number of doctors, nurses and paramedics despite the highest level of personal preventive and precautionary measures.
“It is important to understand that no system may be good enough. We have an example of Italy, Spain and China before our eyes. We are not best to respond to such a bigger human tragedy,” it said.
DAK said preparedness for impending disaster is the responsibility of administration and they should not waste time and must gear up to optimal measures.
“We warn people that if they won’t follow advisories and administrative orders religiously, then biggest human tragedies are on cards and we can lose our dear ones,” it warned.
DAK appealed people to stay indoors and break the transmission chain of Covid-19 saying that it is the only best remedy available with people to save themselves.
The government should also restore 4G internet services so that patients can be examined through video calls and can decrease face to face contact with patients.