Why are so many fleeing quarantine in Kashmir?

Deccan Chronicle.  | Yusuf Jameel

Nation, Current Affairs

Photographs of street dogs in the corridors of major hospitals put the focus on hospital conditions

Health workers spray disinfectant in Srinagar. (DC Photo by H U Naqash)

Srinagar: Photographs and videos portraying allegedly chaotic conditions in some of Jammu & Kashmir’s hospitals have gone viral on social media even as ten more persons tested positive for the deadly Covid-19 virus in the union territory on Monday.

One photograph showed stray dogs roaming freely in a corridor of the government-run Chest Disease (CD) Hospital in Srinagar, which is a designated facility for Covid-19 patients. A pinned tweet accompanying the photo read, “I’m shocked, I was just talking to my cousin and another patient over phone -- both COVID-19 +ve patients at CD Hospital. Dogs are in the ward attacking patients. Also doctors asked them to get medicines from outside. Is this our healthcare system level?”

In another tweet, the same person, Khalid Rathore, said his cousin’s medical reports clearly showed him as a suspect for Covid-19 but he has been put together with confirmed positive cases of the disease. “Just checked medical reports of my cousin, which clearly show 'suspect for COVID-19' that means he has not been yet confirmed +ve for the same. Then why has he been kept with +ve cases where he can easily and is likely to get infected?”

Last week, a woman Covid-19 suspect fled the hospital in the dead of night and later reported at Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS). Her family sought to justify her act, saying she left the hospital after a pack of stray dogs entered the premises. Srinagar’s mayor Junaid Azim Mattu had, after photographs showing dogs inside the hospital went viral, promised to secure the premises by erecting a wall.

Last weekend, as many as 26 Covid-19 suspects jumped quarantine at Srinagar’s Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial (JLNM) Hospital amidst chaos triggered by a violent protest over poor medical facilities. The protesters allegedly broke furniture and window panes in the hospital and were joined in the rampage by their relatives.

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However, as per a statement by Srinagar’s DC Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, all the quarantine fugitives were quickly traced and brought back to the hospital with the help of the police.

The authorities here admit that hospitals and other medical facilities in the union territory, mainly in the Kashmir Valley, have become overcrowded due to the influx of confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases. "We’re making every possible effort to make everyone who is with us comfortable. Any gaps that might be there will be filled and all weaknesses removed soon,” said Dr. Naveed Nazir Shah, HOD at CD Hospital in a video message.

The government on Monday reported ten new positive cases of Covid-19 including three from Jammu division and seven from the Kashmir Valley, taking the total number of corona positive patients to 48. With one more person from Ladakh testing positive at a hospital in Jodhpur, Rajasthan ,following his evacuation from Iran, the number of patients in or from the landlocked region has risen to 14.

Officials said that while most of Ladakh’s Covid-19 patients are recovering at Leh’s Sonam Narboo Memorial Hospital, out of J&K’s 48 positive cases, 44 remain “active”, two have recovered and the remaining two have passed away.

In J&K, as many as 11,644 travellers and persons in contact with suspected cases are currently put under surveillance which include 355 persons who are in hospital isolation or quarantine. A report from Jodhpur said a 41-year-old male resident of Ladakh among those evacuated from Iran last week was found COVID-19 positive at the MDH Hospital.

Back home, the doctors at SKIMS claimed that the 67-year-old woman from Srinagar’s Khanyar area, who became the Valley’s first case of Covid-19 has “recovered” as she tested negative for the novel disease. G.H. Yatoo, nodal officer for coronavirus at SKIMS, said the samples of the woman sent to the viral diagnostic lab have tested negative, adding that she would, however, be kept in quarantine for a period of 14 days before a decision to discharge her or not could be taken. 

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