COVID-19: Just 180 ventilators in hospitals of J&K

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

SRINAGAR — With coronavirus wrecking havoc across the globe, Jammu and Kashmir hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with the crisis.

The deadly virus has infected more than 787,000 people and killed over 37,000 worldwide, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday.

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The United States has the most confirmed cases globally at over 160,700. More than 3,000 people have died in the US — over 1,200 in New York State. Most of these deaths have taken place in developed countries—Italy, China, Spain, USA and France where health infrastructure is far better than India.

As per reports, among all Indian States, Jammu and Kashmir is one of the place further worse off because for a population of 1.25 crore, there are around 180 ventilators in the Union Territory’s hospitals. Almost all are occupied by the patients at all times, rarely leaving any space for COVID-19 patients, if the need arises.

In Kashmir alone, for a population of 70 lakh, there are just 93 ventilators in hospitals. Almost all are occupied by patients suffering from various ailments.

Gulf News reported that Kashmir has a population of 7.5 to 8 million, and merely 95 ventilators, with many of them defunct. And, if situation worsens, critically-ill patients would require invasive ventilation to stay alive.

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“So far two people have died and 55 are infected. God forbid, if the virus escalates in Kashmir, our health system is in poor state. We are not in a position to deal with any eventuality and there will be a crisis situation,” a senior doctor at Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura, Srinagar said.

The doctor said there are just four ventilators in isolation wards in Kashmir hospitals where patients with symptoms of coronavirus are kept. “The ventilators are already occupied by patients in cardiology and wards of other departments. Patients having coronavirus symptoms can’t be shifted to ICU as they have to be isolated. Our hospitals are most poorly equipped across India,” the doctor said.

As reported earlier, doctors lack proper and adequate protection gears and safety equipment like N95 masks, PVC coated gowns and ventilators in hospitals.

The doctors’ body has requested the L-G’s office to procure adequate amount of ventilators to augment the capacity of district hospitals and to open new medical colleges in the Valley.

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A SKIMS doctor tweeted, “We are in the middle of the battleground, the way armed forces are being provided the arms and personal protection likewise docs and medical staff must be equipped with WHO-designated personal protective equipment in order to bend the curve of transmission. Otherwise, be ready for the calamity which can create havoc.”

Associated Hospital of GMC Anantnag has no ventilator for COVID-19 patients while Associated Hospital of GMC Baramulla has one ventilator only for such patients. Both the hospitals, however, have two transport ventilators each for COVID-19 patients.

A doctor at Ganderbal district hospital said there is only single ventilator in the hospital. “For doctors, even N95 masks and sanitisers are unavailable,” the doctor said.

G.B Pant Hospital, the premier institution for children, has 10 ventilators available. Moreover, north Kashmir’s District Hospital at Handwara has four ventilators and three in Government Medical College Hospital Baramulla.

In addition, Barzulla’s Bone and Joints Hospital and renowned Lal Ded Maternity Hospital have two ventilators each. There is no facility of ventilators available in Kupwara and Bandipora.

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