In two weeks, Kashmir has seen a 2.5 fold increase in admissions of COVID19 patients. However, as the beds are filling up fast in Srinagar based treatment facilities, dedicated hospitals across peripheries continue to lie unused.
In the past two weeks, between 01 April and 15 April, the occupancy of hospitals in Kashmir has risen from 139 beds to 354 beds, an increase of 250 percent. The rise in admissions has been exponential in April as per official data while the capacity had been curtailed over the end of previous year when Kashmir saw a drop in daily positive cases. Currently, out of the 328 beds allocated to COVID19 in Srinagar based SMHS Hospital, SKIMS Soura and Chest Diseases Hospital, 205 are occupied.
Many doctors believe that the healthcare system in peripheries could be augmented to share the load of COVID19 amidst growing fears of further surge in cases. "But for the past one year, neither has the manpower been allocated for the management of cases in these facilities, nor has the infrastructure been augmented," a senior medico based in a south Kashmir hospital said. He said the administration has also been lax on making infrastructure in the new medical colleges at Anantnag and Baramulla adequate for the requirements of COVID19 patients. "We have no ICU bed in GMC Baramulla for COVID19 patients. They used to send every patient to SKIMS Medical College Hospital Bemina," he said. Baramulla has 853 active cases of COVID19 while only 30 patients are admitted in Baramulla district's two COVID19 hospitals. He added that GMC Anantnag had only three beds but no manpower had been allocated for it.
The low number of oxygen beds in peripheries, a senior medico at SKIMS Soura said, was the main cause of the referrals. "Beds have been allocated, but there is very little accomplished in terms of oxygen support," he said. A senior healthcare official said that one of the causes of low occupancy in hospitals outside Srinagar was the low number of cases in the peripheries. He said a majority of cases are among people living in Srinagar. Currently, Srinagar has 3348 active cases out of the 5836 in entire Kashmir.
Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Rather said the hospitals were admitting the patients. "We are ready with everything. We have never closed any facility," he said adding that augmentation was "in progress" in terms of oxygen support at these facilities.