450% rise in COVID hospital admissions in April

Shri Maharaja Hari Singh, commonly known as SMHS Hospital, is a multi-speciality state-owned hospital in Kak Sarai area of Karan Nagar in Srinagar. [Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir]

With the COVID19 cases increasing exponentially, the sharp rise in the number of patients requiring hospital admission has the healthcare system worried.

On March 31, only 192 COVID19 patients were admitted across hospitals of J&K. However, three weeks later, the number rose to 877 – a massive 450 percent increase. While in the previous month, 5.8 percent of the active cases were admitted in hospitals for moderate to severe COVID19 symptoms, in April, towards the tail end, the percentage remained nearly unchanged.

Of the 14928 active cases, 5.4 percent were admitted across hospitals of the UT. Although the percentage of the cases requiring admission has remained unchanged over the two reference months, in terms of absolute numbers, it translates into a massive burden on the hospital infrastructure.

In Kashmir division, SKIMS Soura has its admissions increased from 42 at the end of the March to 171 now. The hospital has closed down admission of ‘non-emergency cases’. At Chest Diseases Hospital, the admissions have increased from 45 to 84, its ICU beds also running out fast.

According to J&K Government’s Media Bulletin on COVID19, a vast majority of the admitted patients were admitted in Kashmir division – 510. Srinagar, with the highest number of active cases, accounting for approximately 50 percent of cases detected in Kashmir, has most of the patients in its hospitals.

With the new wave of COVID19 hitting J&K, April has seen an expeditious doubling time of new cases. From over 500 cases in the first week of April, the cases doubled to over 1000 in the second week and now over 2000 in the beginning of the fourth week.

An analysis of the data reveals that travelers have been a significant chunk of the cases reported from J&K. In March, 1050 of 4519 cases were travelers – 23 percent. In April, 4390 cases, out of the 21482 (20.4 percent) were travelers.

Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo said the situation was “challenging” owing to fast rising cases. He said the Government was in the process of taking all possible measures to increase oxygen beds in J&K. “We will have an increased capacity of high-flow oxygen in all districts in April itself,” he said. He said that J&K had increased its testing capacity and 8.3 lakh people had been tested in this month.