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Patient awaiting surgery at Srinagar hospital turns COVID positive; docs sent to quarantine

Srinagar: A plastic surgery patient admitted for the last seven days in super-specialty hospital at Shreenbagh here, has tested positive for novel coronavirus, making the doctors and other healthcare workers at the institute nervous.

The doctors fear that the hospital might have to be shut in worst-case scenario and blame administration for what some of them described as a “blunder”.


Official sources said that a 55-year-old patient admitted to the hospital a week ago was to be operated upon on Thursday. However, the surgery was delayed as her test for COVID-19 was awaited.

“The report was received on Friday and it came out to be positive,” a doctor told GNS.

“We have already conducted two surgeries and they along with at least 12 other patients share the same ward as that of the now COVID-19 patient,” the doctor, wishing not to be named, said.

“The two patients whose surgery was done four days ago tested negative after their samples were taken two days prior to their surgery. We never know as they could have contracted the disease also as they spent at least two days with the patient when their surgery was ultimately done,” the doctor said, adding, “operation theatre is the most vulnerable place as a lot of aerosol is generated. It is beyond cough etc. Our operation theatres don’t even have negative pressure or scavenging systems.”

The patient was actually shifted from SMHS hospital where too she was admitted for a few days, sources said.

“Why are patients not screened for COVID-19 prior to their arrival or referral to the tertiary care hospital which is meant for non-COVID patients?” the doctor questioned. “The patients admitted to the particular ward are already vulnerable and it adds to their risk.”

On Saturday, the authorities took samples of all the fourteen patients in the ward for novel coronavirus while around thirty healthcare workers including at least five doctors besides nurses and dressers were shifted to either administrative or home quarantine. 

“We were not provided personal protective equipment despite our asking all these days and now that a patient has tested positive, PPEs have been distributed among a few. Earlier we were given four masks and were asked to run them for a month,” said another doctor. 

“The infection is increasingly spreading among healthcare professionals forcing them to go in quarantine. This has led to a shortage of doctors and other healthcare workers. It is also discouraging for others to lead from the front as they are concerned about their own lives and well-being,” the doctor said.

He said that in case anyone among the 14 patients tested positive, there could be “more problems.” 

The super-specialty hospital Shreenbagh provides facilities such as neurology, neurosurgery, gastroenterology, oncology among others.

“This is fully functional hospitals and would cater to the needs of hundreds of patients. There are chances now that we may lose an entire hospital to the administrative blunder,” he added.

Medical Superintendent Dr Shabir Ahmad confirmed that eight doctors were among the health workers shifted to quarantine. “All precautions have been taken,” he said.  (GNS inputs)