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Protocol adherence: How Jammu is testing fewer but tackling COVID better than Kashmir

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Against 3756 active cases in Kashmir, winter capital has only 789 

Srinagar, Jul 15: For a change, Jammu shows the way to fight Covid19 even as Kashmir struggles to control the spread of infection.

Official data reveals that there are as many as 4,545 active cases in J&K till July 13. Of whom, 3,756 are from Kashmir and 789 are from Jammu.


Head, Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College, Jammu, Dr Shashi Soodan said the administration has taken all the pro-active, preventive and preparedness measures efficiently to contain the virus.

“For the overall management of the positive patients, there is a coordinated effort between the healthcare professionals and administrators,” she said.

Dr Shashi stressed that the testing has been a technically demanding process for them. “We have had viral research and diagnostic laboratory in GMC medical college since 2014. Although it has a bare minimum infrastructure and not a Biological Safety Level (BSL) laboratory, we have managed successfully,” she said.

Figures indicate that on average, 2100 tests are being conducted every day. “The laboratory has functioned well because of good infection control and lab practices. In the last four months, not even a single employee has tested positive,” she said.

Dr Shashi pointed out that the situation unfolding in Jammu is not as grim as Kashmir. “We are not seeing too many cases of bilateral pneumonia. Further, there is no such shortage of beds at present. There are dedicated COVID facilities in all the districts,” she added.

However, a resident doctor at ASCOMS Batra Hospital said the testing is significantly less in Jammu as compared to Kashmir.

“First things first, Jammu is not as densely populated as Kashmir. Secondly, in Kashmir testing is being done in thousands, while it is a different case here. It is not as aggressive as that of virology laboratories in Kashmir,” he said.

He noted that people mostly tested in Jammu are travellers. “It is mostly the air or train passengers who are screened and tested here,” he said.

Citing his personal experience, he said the samples are not properly taken.

“A few days back, I landed at Jammu airport. The staffer behind the mirror glass recklessly took my sample. Before, taking my nasopharyngeal swab, she touched the mirror first. I couldn’t get the time to react so I stood still. I fear I will test positive and the reason will be improper sampling,” he said.

In GMC Jammu, there are at least 21 ventilators while ASCOMS has six to seven of them.

Another senior doctor from Jammu said people are effectively protecting themselves from the virus.

“They are following social distancing and washing hands frequently. The malls here are open and you can see there are only three or four people in the shops. Even if you are buying pizza, the people have to put money in a box and not give it to the shopkeeper directly,” he said.

Health experts in Kashmir have a different perspective on the disparity in cases.

President Doctors Association of Kashmir Dr Suhail Naik said it is partially true that people in Jammu follow all the protocols strictly resulting in lesser cases.

“We have to understand that Jammu has a lesser population density than Kashmir. The pandemic is directly proportional to the density of the population. Secondly, national and international travel to Jammu is very less compared to Kashmir. Also, Kashmiri students studying outside the valley are more in number than in Jammu. These all things determine the basic baseline cases of the pandemic,” he said.

He asserted that when you have a more baseline number of patients, then it multiplies exponentially. “But one thing is there, the people in Jammu are more disciplined and health-conscious than Kashmiris,” he said.

According to the 2011 census, the total population of the Jammu division is 5,350,811 whereas the population of Kashmir is 6,907,623.

Professor of Surgery, GMC Srinagar, Dr Iqbal Saleem said the testing in Jammu is far less than in Kashmir.

“You have to consider that it is summer and most of the people are here. It is not as much congested as it would be otherwise” he said.

He said whatever SOPS and official orders are given that have to be implemented on the ground.

“Due to the weak implementation, people in the valley have become careless and indifferent to protocols. This is a significant reason behind the spike in cases,” he said.