Top GMC Srinagar pulmonologist tests positive

A senior pulmonologist leading the COVID19 response at Chest Disease Hospital tested positive today, 16th doctor in Kashmir getting infected with the virus.

Dr Naveed Nazir Shah is head of pulmonary medicine at GMC Srinagar and head clinician for COVID19 response of the medical college. “I have always been careful but the positive report still did not come as a surprise,” Dr Shah said while speaking to the Greater Kashmir. “This is a risk that every healthcare worker knows and accepts while coming to work,” he said.

Dr Shah tested positive for COVID19 on Tuesday morning, a sample he had given on Monday. He said he suspected he had caught the infection after an attendant of a patient he had met tested positive. “I had planned to get tested this week, and had gone to meet my parents on the weekend,” Dr Shah said. Doctors working with COVID19 patients at CD Hospital stay at accommodations outside their homes. “If my exposure has been prior to the weekend, they may also need to get tested,” he said.

In the past, at least 15 doctors have tested positive for COVID19 infection. Many more healthcare workers, working at many strata of the hospitals have also tested positive.

A senior administrator in the health department said that Dr Shah, like many other doctors, has been working nonstop for about three months now. He said that the Government was yet to devise a way to bring in roasters to give rotation to the healthcare workers, especially in GMC associated hospitals and in the directorates of health.

Another administrator said that no regular sampling and testing of healthcare workers was being carried out and this could put the entire healthcare delivery system in jeopardy. “Our staff is at the forefront, but no thought is being spared to safeguard their health,” he said.

A scientific SOP has also been sought by Dr Shah for duties and testing of all frontline workers.  “Without a break… surely this is not the way,” he said.

In the past too, the pulmonologist has been very vocal about the measures taken to safeguard people, including health workers from getting infected. “CD Hospital is like second home to us, and to safeguard the health of local inhabitants is our responsibility,” he tweeted on 24 April. He cautioned however, “those who are fighting the infection can be spreaders”.

On 23 of May, the eve of Eid, he tweeted, “One more medico positive for COVID… 32 patients discharged on eve of Eid.” To bring home the point the healthcare workers were working hard to help people get home after recovering from COVID19 infection.

His spirit high, he said he will continue to contribute in whatever manner he can while he remains admitted at CD Hospital.