Srinagar: Kashmir has been recording an increase in the daily number of COVID19 cases reported over the past 10 days. While some worry that this could be the beginning of the Third Wave, others believe that these upheavals are periodic and benign.
After 27 September, the daily case tally in J&K has remained over 90 and shot up to cross 100 mark on many days. Between 17 and 26 September, the cases crossed 100 only once and on other days were below 90. Weeks before that, the case graph looked similar to the case graph now, average daily reported positives above 100 on most days. While most of J&K has been recording cases in single digit, the case rise is fuelled by the surge in the number of cases in Srinagar district. On Saturday, Srinagar recorded 79 positives, over half of the total cases reported from the entire UT. The number of active case share of Srinagar is also more than half of that of J&K.
While raising an alarm over the situation, Prof Naveed Nazir Shah, head department of Chest Medicine GMC Srinagar said there appears to be a visible change in the COVID19 situation in Kashmir. He said that from hospital admissions at Chest Diseases Hospital being in single digit in July and August, now there is a spurt in those requiring hospitalisation. “The number of COVID19 cases and hospital admissions are increasing from the last few days as compared to previous months, there is a possibility of new Delta variant strain in Kashmir valley,” he said. He however said no case of a new variant had been confirmed yet. He said there were many people in Intensive Care Units and Kashmir has witnessed a rise in deaths as well, adding that it must shake people out of their slumber. “I request people to follow Covid-19 appropriate behavior and get vaccinated.”
Prof S Saleem Khan, head department of Social and Preventive Medicine at GMC Srinagar said the number of cases would be insignificant until our hospital admissions stay low. He expressed hope over the capacity of vaccination preventing hospital admission and severe disease and said the drive was progressing well. In addition, he said, there was natural immunity due to high sero-prevalence and fewer people, even when testing positive, had symptoms now.
He said out of 3.33 lakh positive cases in J&K, over 75 thousand cases reported from Srinagar. The reason for Srinagar having a higher caseload was its high population density, due to which disease transmission is much higher. He said Srinagar was the largest population wise, so a higher caseload was natural. In addition it was a tourist destination and the first stopover for all tourists and a central business district resulting in more visits and interactions among sellers and buyers. Srinagar, he said, being the capital city had more employees, educational institutes and more office visitors, therefore more chances of transmission. It was also a hub of all medical tertiary care facilities and the highest testing, more tests- more quantum of positive cases. The hospitals, he said, were expected to have the highest patient load due to referrals and tertiary level hospitals and even more testing.
Rouf Hussain Rather, a Social and Preventive Medicine Expert working in Divisional COVID Control Room said Kashmir was in a plateau phase of the Pandemic and smaller waves “like the current one” were seen previously also. “We had a similar rise in September and it ebbed. This will ebb as well until we have no new variant evading the immunity,” he said. He said J&K needs to be updated on the genome data and continue vaccination and SOPs.
J&K Government last week said there was no new variant of concern in Kashmir.