Healthcare

Changing trends, ‘erratic’ behaviour of Coronavirus worries Doctors in Kashmir

Doctors on the frontline flag erratic behaviour of the virus as they observe the continuous inflow of patients. This, as the administration opens parks and pilgrimages, and hospitals are being flooded.

Srinagar: As waves after waves of patients arrive in hospital wards, the resultant fatality count of Covid-19 has touched 165 in Jammu and Kashmir. A new and disturbing phenomenon is being noticed by doctors on the frontline.

One of them, is the increasing number of pneumonia cases, especially amongst the youth.

“Multiple patients are coming in with symptoms of simple and bilateral pneumonia, along with simple and severe respiratory issues. Over the subsequent course of tests, the number of confirmed positive cases in the last month has substantially increased amongst them,” says Dr. Khawar Khan, Registrar of the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital or Headwin Hospital, a multi-speciality hospital in the Karan Nagar area of Srinagar.

What worries Dr Khan, is that this is not a season for pneumonia, and youngsters normally do not catch it.

Dr. Naveed Nazir Shah, Head of Department of the Chest Disease Hospital, Srinagar says, “in SMHS, 20-30 of those suffering turn out to be positive. It is rather unusual for pneumonia to be growing at such a rapid rate at this time,” he says, adding that those with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) are at higher risk.

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Other doctors, who share the same concerns, and have been reporting and witnessing similar patterns during their practice, have been sounding alarm bells to wake the administration up from their slumber.

On May 26, Free Press Kashmir had reported that doctors in Government Medical College, Jammu had been pointing towards community transmission after their staff was exposed to COVID positive patients.

It has been more than a month since, with deaths piling, the front-line warriors have found their appeals falling on deaf ears. The administration since then, has surprisingly done the opposite of what the medical community suggested, and decided to open up the state for religious pilgrimages, open up parks for leisure, and has hinted at allowing tourism.

With hospital wards overloaded, and doctors over-worked, the fight against the virus may only get worse in the coming days.

“A lot of people have tested positive without the symptoms, which is immensely alarming,” says Dr. Salim Khan, Nodal Officer for COVID-19, and Head of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (SPM), Government Medical College, Srinagar.

“Most of them are dying within 2 days of admission. Between July 1 and 10, cases have doubled in Srinagar. Earlier, it would take around 3 weeks for it to double, now it is way lesser,” elucidated the doctor.

“There has been a sharp case in the rise of young patients. Initially, we would get 3-4 confirmed cases or patients a day. Now it is around an alarming 30-35.” added Dr. Khawar from SMHS.

Last night, tweeting pictures which depicted X-rays showing pneumonia with dropping oxygen saturation, Dr. Tariq Tramboo, Critical Care Physician and Pain Management Specialist based in Srinagar ,mentioned how it has been ‘affecting all ages’ since July 7.

Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, Dr. Tramboo gave further insights into the concern: “In the last ten days, younger people are getting more symptoms – which wasn’t the trend initially. The X-Rays are showing advance pneumonia upon admission. It is erratic.”

Saying that the treatment in such cases becomes difficult, Dr. Tramboo mentioned how some even require mechanical ventilation, as the blood gas abnormalities become too advance to contract.

“The recovery rate is very grim,” he says. “There’s a prevalent phenomenon of sweet hypoxia, which is quite typical with COVID as well as ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) where the infected person doesn’t know about their dropping oxygen levels.”

The Doctor says that the damage is already caused in organs such as the liver, kidneys, etc and people do not know about it.

“People need to know that it is a multisystem disease and not only limited to respiratory system,” he says.

When asked about how can the menace can be tackled, Dr. Tramboo stated that laws about wearing masks or following social distancing should be framed and exercised.

“Other things do not seem to be sustainable as of now,” he says.

Doctors’ fears were evident about the J&K administration’s decision to open parks, and allow the annual Amarnath Yatra, albeit in a ‘restricted’ manner.

“The government choosing to open parks has only added to the catastrophe. People have been given an impression all is well and are choosing not to wear masks, or properly follow social distancing in Kashmir,” Dr. Khawar concluded saying.

 

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