Dr Javaid Malik, the head of the Chest Medicine at SKIMS Medical College Hospital Bemina tell Khalid Bashir Gura
KASHMIR LIFE (KL): What is the current status of the Covid-19 infection in Kashmir?
DR JAVAID MALIK (DJM): Currently the Covid-19 infection rate in Kashmir is progressing at a constant but not alarming rate. Measures adopted by the government authorities have prevented the epidemic from exploding into an uncontrollable stage.
KL: How important is the lockdown?
DJM: It is extremely important to continue with the lockdown and prevent our health care system from getting overwhelmed by the influx of patients and thereby minimizing Covid-19 related deaths.
KL: As a doctor how do you see administration erecting irremovable barricades in red zones?
DJM: Barricades in red zones are important but should be removable to handle unforeseen emergencies like medical, fire and other things.
KL: How far we have been able to do the testing successfully?
DJM: In Kashmir, nearly all contacts of Covid-19 positive patients are traced and tested. Similarly, all Covid-19 suspects who come to government hospitals are subject to rt-PCR test. I am satisfied with the speed of testing.
KL: How far is it true that Hydroxychloroquine is effective for treating positive patients?
DJM: Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is used in symptomatic Covid-19 positive patients who have moderate to severe disease, particularly respiratory failure (ARDS). The evidence for the effectiveness of HCQ is drawn primarily from studies conducted in China and France. However, the final word about its efficacy in Covid-19 infections will depend on the results of the ongoing WHO sponsored SOLIDARITY trial.
KL: Patients with existing ailments like diabetes or other ailments do they have extra caution to take in fasting?
DJM: Patients with diabetes, heart diseases and chronic lung, kidney or liver disease are at higher risk of complications and death from Covid-19. Diabetes need meticulous glycaemia control and should avoid hypoglycaemic episodes particularly those who are on Insulin therapy and should take instructions from Endocrinologist regarding fasting during Ramadan.
KL: How crucial are the next three months for Kashmir?
DJM: Next three months are very crucial so far Covid-19 epidemic curve goes. In order to prevent crippling of our health care system we need to maintain social distancing, hand hygiene practices, and strictly follow government advisories issued from time to time.
KL: Reportedly the recovered patients have offered their plasma. Can you please tell us whether it is really beneficial and how it can be used?
DJM: Plasma therapy is currently being considered as a viable treatment option for Covid-19 infection. In plasma therapy, antibody-rich plasma is donated by healthy volunteers from Covid-19 infection and have tested negative twice. These donors should be free of any disease and can donate multiple times without any harmful effects on them.
KL: Do dead spread the infection or not?
DJM: The dead body of Covid-19 patient is infectious and these dead bodies should be handled as per government protocol so as to prevent the spread of infections to others.
KL: Almost 85 per cent Covid-19 positive patients are reported to asymptomatic. Is it dangerous or something to cheer about?
DJM: It is a global observation as well as our finding so far that nearly 80 per cent of patients are either asymptomatic or has mild symptoms. One needs to be extra careful with these patients because they are as infectious as the remaining 20 per cent who have severe or critical disease.
KL: At the end of the day you are a doctor, do you think our frontline workers are sufficiently protected. Or we are putting their lives in danger?
DJM: As a frontline worker against Covid-19 all health care workers need to be protected adequately against this invisible deadly virus. Currently, we have adequate supplies to safeguard health care workers.
KL: Once we are done with lockdown and people move around, how do you see the effect?
DJM: Since we do not have a vaccine as yet against Covid-19 once the lockdown is over, I feel we will have to continue with social distancing, hand hygiene practices, and cough, sneezing etiquettes to prevent epidemic from going out of control. Otherwise, it can be a huge challenge.