No admin quarantine, new testing pattern, virtual homewards: Clamor grows for policy shift to tackle COVID crisis in Kashmir
Srinagar: Health experts have called for a ‘policy shift’ after Kashmir saw an alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases for the last one month
Leading the chorus is Dr. Naved Nazir Shah, head department of Chest Medicine, Government Medical College, who recently tested positive for the virus.
“So many positives detected each day…where are we going to keep them… and their families/contacts… Do we have to alter our strategy… testing and quarantine,” tweeted Dr. Naveed from the quarantine center
It is pertinent to mention that in line with the present protocol, all the traced contacts of Covid-19 positive patients are isolated and put in administrative quarantine. As a result, the quarantine centers are overflowing leading to a paucity of space and resources.
According to the official figures, Jammu and Kashmir has recorded a total of 3,142 patients so far. Of whom, 2407 are from Kashmir alone.
President, Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) Dr. Suhail Naik said the administration needs to stress on two things— home quarantine instead of administrative quarantine and adoption of the `syndromic approach’.
“Instead of filling the administrative centers, the contacts of positive patients should be put under home quarantine with strict surveillance mechanism,” he said.
Dr. Suhail said by promoting a syndromic approach those under home quarantine should be monitored under strict surveillance. “If anyone among them develops symptoms, they can be immediately identified and sent for screening. This will eventually lead to more precision in testing and less chaos,” he said.
DAK president noted the administrative quarantine further instills fear in the minds of people.
“The thought of administrative quarantine can make one fearful and uneasy. The administration should play a proactive role by educating the masses on the protocols of home quarantine,” he said.
He pointed out that there is a popular notion that testing negative means “you are COVID free.”
“This is not true. After testing negative, the symptoms can re-emerge. RT-PCR testing is only 60 percent accurate. One should take the same precautions even after reporting negative for Covid-19,” Dr. Suhail said.
Nodal Officer Government Medical College, Srinagar Dr. Salim Khan said the contacts of the positive cases should be well-informed on the precautions to be taken in the home quarantine.
“Further, the testing should be made mandatory for symptomatic and suspected which includes high-risk contacts, pregnant females, people who have to undergo some medical procedures or surgeries,” he said.
He emphasized that Real-Time Testing for the detection of Covid-19 should be shifted to IgG Testing.
“The Immunoglobulin G test also is known by several names like IgG Serum, Quantitative IgG, IgG Test, and Serum. It is a simple blood test that measures the level of Immunoglobulin G antibodies in the blood. The IgG Serum test is performed to determine the presence of any infection in the body and the level of immunity of our body,” Dr. Sailm said.
Dr. Shahnawaz B Kaloo, a Kashmiri doctor based in Delhi said the need of the hour is to move to home quarantine under supervision, which is essentially the same as virtual wards.
“Else our Hospitals will be flooded. A virtual ward is a community place or patient’s home where they stay till cured. Here, the patients or their family members write down their daily complaints, record their daily temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and send it to the concerned ward admin,” he said.
A senior doctor at GMC Srinagar said the healthcare facilities in the valley need to be streamlined.
“In the name of Covid-19, there are isolation and quarantine centers everywhere. The outcome is nothing but chaos. We need to have a one full-fledged COVID Hospital each in Srinagar, North and South Kashmir. Each hospital should be allotted patients from specific areas. This will leave a room for routine check-ups,” he said.