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Covid Spreading in the Valley May Get Worse as Winter Arrives

News18 logo News18 30-11-2021 Mufti Islah
a group of people sitting on the side of a mountain: Covid Spreading in the Valley May Get Worse as Winter Arrives © Provided by News18 Covid Spreading in the Valley May Get Worse as Winter Arrives

In Kashmir, not a single case of Omicron strain has been detected yet, but Covid 19 is still spreading, raising fears of the possibility of a third wave hitting the region as winter nears.

The latest figures shared by the health directorate show covid fatalities have increased five times and infections by 58 percent in the last month only. Against seven deaths in October, there have been 35 in November in the Valley alone. The positive cases have jumped to 3,623 from 2,290 during the same period. Two of the four hospitals, DRDO Khunmoh and Chest Disease hospitals that deal with the pandemic, say the daily admissions have gone up from one to two admissions between April and September to six in October and eight to nine in November. The DRDO’s current admission is 50 and there are 60 more that have been put up in CD.

The data may not be huge when compared to metros or bigger cities of the country but given that Kashmir has only eight million population, the viral spread needs not to be taken lightly.

Doctors and administrators are surprised that even fully vaccinated people have contracted the virus though the fatality rate is less in their cases.

Since July, 3,423 and 2,032 persons fully or partially vaccinated, have contracted infection but only 21 per cent meaning 11 each have died. As against this 30 persons of the 3306 (30) have succumbed to the virus.

”It is evident that breakthrough infections have been there even if people have received double jabs but the fatalities are less,” Dr Rashid Para, medical superintendent at the biggest DRDO hospital told News 18.

The 500 bedded DRDO facility with a huge infrastructure and staff that includes 80 doctors and 600 paramedics and the allied staff was set up in July on the outskirts of Srinagar in Khunmoh locality within just 17 days. The state-of-the-art facility was created on the war-footing scale to meet any exigency and to put brakes on the virus.

“It is important people don’t compromise on basic Covid behaviour. Vaccines don’t mean you should be complacent and do away with Covid protocol,” warned Dr Mir Mushtaq, who is studying the fresh surge at the health directorate. “We have been telling people vaccines don’t shield you from Covid if you throw away the mask, don’t maintain hygiene. People should respect Covid and Covid will respect them in turn,” Dr Mushtaq said, delivering a curt message to people to stick to Covid discipline. Between March and September this year, the virus was contained to around 30 to 50 cases daily but October saw a three-fold surge.

First, it was the huge marriage gatherings in September and October that triggered a spike in Covid cases in Kashmir and now the progression of those cases coupled with cold weather conditions are likely to worsen the situation.

Experts warn the virus may multiply given that winters tend to confine people in small spaces and sans any aeration. ”This may get worse in the next few months due to poor ventilation in closed rooms. We witnessed the same in the first and second waves. The caseload increases in smaller spaces and more people may pick up an infection in winters,” said Dr Para.

As of Monday, 4,476 persons have died in J&K, Kashmir and Jammu account for 2,291 and 2,185, respectively. Dr Naveed Nazir, Head, Chest Diseases Hospital, said his hospital has seen more patient admissions in the last four weeks.

“There are 60 admissions as of today as compared to 20 to 30 in last 10 weeks,” he said, adding it seems the virus has reached clusters and is progressing steadily if not rapidly. “It will take some time to get out of these clusters,” he warned.

Meanwhile, the administration in Srinagar and Baramulla have earmarked some special zones for strict monitoring. “We have created micro containment zones to curb corona spread,” an officer said.

Also Read: Kashmir Set to Roll out Covid Vaccination Drive, 30k Health & Revenue Officials to Get Jabs First

 The health officials have scaled up scrutiny at the Srinagar airport and on the national highway so that travellers carrying the infection are stopped and tested, tracked and isolated before they mix up with the locals.

“We have laid down SOPs for the tourists. RTPCR test prior to 48 hours before flying into Srinagar and a RAT on arrival at Srinagar airport ensures no vector gets into Kashmir undetected,” Mohammad Asad Ajaz, Srinagar district magistrate told News 18 last week.

In view of Omicron transmission world over, the authorities have reset guidelines. “Negative travellers will be sent for home quarantine of 7 days and retested on 8th day whereas positive patient would be sent for a 15-day institutional quarantine and their samples would be sent for genome sequencing for detection of Omicron variant at ICMR designated testing laboratories,” officials said.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta has asked the health department to ensure the readiness of manpower and machinery to cater to the peak caseload of 7,500 patients per day.

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