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A year of COVID19: Kashmir fights on to beat deadly virus


SRINAGAR: A year on, Kashmir is fighting tooth and claw to defeat deadly COVID-19.

It was March 17 last year when Kashmir reported its first COVID 19 positive case. A 60-year-old Saudi returned woman was tested positive sending Kashmir into a panic mode. Since then, much water has flown down the Jhelum.

COVID 19 has claimed 1974 lives in the last one year. Of whom 730 have died in the Jammu division and 1244 in the Kashmir division.

Till March 15, 5581500 COVID tests have been conducted in the union territory. Of which 5437766 samples have tested negative.

Jammu and Kashmir currently has 127734 positive cases. Of whom 937 are active positive and 124823 have recovered.

Till March 15, 1394138 persons have been enlisted for observation. They include 29725 people under home quarantine, 937 in isolation, and 117749 under home surveillance. Besides, 1243753 persons have completed their surveillance period.

Due to aggressive testing and awareness campaigns, the cases have come down sharply in Jammu and Kashmir. Even the mortality rate has dropped considerably in the UT. Jammu and Kashmir government has de-notified 15 COVID hospitals following the drop in the positive cases.

However, the fight against COVID has been very tough. From infrastructure deficiency to panic reaction, authorities initially struggled to fight the battle against the virus.

“We had only one laboratory when we started. Now we have 11 testing laboratories. Earlier we were conducting the only Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). Now we are conducting both RTPCR and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT),” said an officer.

Doctors, paramedics and frontline workers fought a gallant fight despite being ill-equipped. Doctors stayed out of their homes for weeks to treat COVID patients. Even pictures of doctors not been able to hug their kids fearing the virus broke many hearts.

“We as doctors were always at greater risk. Every time, a doctor was getting infected, we would say that is now our turn. When doctors died of infection, it sent shock waves across the fraternity,” said Dr. Suhail Naik, President, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK).

Dr. Naik said there was a huge fear factor that prompted them to stay away from their families. “I have come across several doctors who could not hug their kids fearing infection. We will frequently sanitize ourselves. We were even sanitizing our mobile phones and as a result, several of them conked off. We were using sanitizers so frequently that majority of health workers developed cracks on their palms. It was due to overuse of sanitizers,” he said.

DAK President said they have fought the good fight but the danger is not yet over. “We have to understand that virus strains change. People have observed one strain, but there are many others. So we have to be cautious. We need to wear masks, maintain social distance and wash hands frequently with soap. We can’t be lax,” he said.