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Diabetics to terminally ill: Chronic patients avoid Kashmir hospitals fearing COVID

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Srinagar: A 70-year-old diabetic patient from Srinagar city dismissed the wound on his finger as a minor injury in January. The wound turned into a deadly diabetic ulcer but the fear of contracting Covid-19 stopped him from seeking help at the hospital.

“The recent biopsy test revealed that his wound has turned cancerous. At the same time, he is fearful of availing further treatment given the ongoing situation,” his family member said.


Similarly, Ghulam Nabi Bhat, a 74-year-old cancer patient hailing from Natipora, Srinagar, is subjected to weekly chemo cycles. He has been showing resistance in going to the hospital of late. 

“We cannot afford to wait out a crisis of this length at home or rely on telemedicine alone. So we are now planning to seek treatment from a private hospital nearby rather than Regional Cancer Centre, SKIMS,” said his son. 

Several patients with cancer and other co-morbidities in Kashmir remain apprehensive as their life hangs in balance due to coronavirus. On one hand, they are at risk of developing severe complications from Covid-19 because of their low immunity, and on the other, delaying the treatment can have dire consequences.

Besides, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar has put on hold all routine Out Patient Department (OPD) services and elective surgeries to meet the COVID challenge.

Last week, a meeting chaired by Principal GMC Dr. Samia Rashid and attended by 10 heads of the departments decided that “all routine OPDs/elective surgeries shall be stopped till further orders and only surgeries of emergency nature/malignancy and other referral cases shall be entertained”.

Prof. Gul Mohammad, HOD, Medical Oncology, SKIMS, Soura said the patient inflow in the department has not shown any significant decline so far.

“The department is continuing with chemo-therapies, and the Out Patient Department is also functional,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.

He said there is a genuine concern and fear among the patients given the Covid surge.

“However, we are accessing the situation and might make some modifications depending upon the Covid scenario. For example, if it aggravates, we can reschedule the chemo-cycles depending upon the diagnosis, stage, and prognosis of the patient,” he said.