As the COVID19 cases continue to mount, J&K Government has issued directions for reviving 20,000 beds that had been set up last year in various public buildings identified as COVID Care Centers (CCC). However, experts in Kashmir feel, without medical facilities and manpower, the step would prove useless.
A senior healthcare official said that Chief Secretary J&K, BVR Subrahmanyam has issued directions to Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu divisions to “reactivate” the CCCs that had been created last year when cases of SARS-CoV2 infection started to increase. These centres were used to house and isolate asymptomatic cases and decongest hospitals with the guidelines at that time demanding institutional isolation of all cases.
The official said that the CS has urged the administration to ready the “bottom tier” of facilities on priority “to take care of asymptomatic and mild cases”.
In this regard, District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Saturday notified seven buildings in Srinagar as CCCs. These are Zakura Campus of Kashmir University (324 beds), Hyderpora Facility (300 beds), NIT Srinagar (294 beds), Indoor Stadium (120 beds), Marriage Hall Sanat Nagar (100 beds), Hajj House Bemina (82 beds), IMPA Hostel (80 beds).
Similar facilities, the official said, are on cards in other districts of Kashmir and in Jammu division.
The DDMA has ordered various departments to arrange logistics and basic boarding and lodging facilities in these buildings, including to Chief Medical Officer Srinagar who is required to depute “a medical team headed by a doctor” round the clock.
However, the move has invited flak from medical experts who feel the Government was “copy pasting” strategies of the last year.
“All the asymptomatic and mild cases are under home isolation now. Are we going to tell them to come and sleep in CCCs instead?” a senior doctor working at SKIMS Soura asked. He said that CCCs serve no purpose in the current circumstances if they are not equipped with adequate medical facilities.
The second wave of COVID19 has seen the never before daily caseload being added in Jammu and Kashmir divisions both. “Currently, there are over 18,000 active cases in J&K, over 1050 of these admitted. Many hospitals, with well equipped wards and ICUs are near to filling up while beds identified in other hospitals have limited oxygen ports,” the official said.
Another doctor working at GMC Srinagar said that it was important to arrange oxygen for some CCCs. “Look at Delhi. Don’t they have beds? But what they direly miss is oxygen,” the doctor said.