Srinagar: With the spread of the Covid-19 virus across Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu, people have exposed the claims of the administration that they were ready with hospitals and equipment to help people in this pandemic. In Jammu city, half a dozen citizens told this reporter that they lost their dear ones due to the lack of ventilators and medicines and above all lack of empathy of doctors to Covid positive patients.
A senior doctor working with a Covid designated hospital of Srinagar told this reporter, “The situation is really bad. We don’t have enough beds, no proper oxygen supply and now the biggest problem is how to get ventilators operational.” Another lady doctor and a nurse of this hospital told this newspaper that they do not have trained staff to operate ventilators and do not have sufficient oxygen supply too. “We could have saved many lives in the past two weeks, but for the want of medicines, ventilators and other equipment,” said a doctor from Jammu hospital, as the death toll has increased in the past one week in both Jammu and Srinagar cities.
According to official figures till Friday afternoon, the UT of Jammu and Kashmir has almost 50,000 cases of Covid-19 and death toll has also jumped to about 900.
When this reporter tried to contact the Deputy Commissioners of Jammu and Srinagar cities, they refused to comment and instead asked to contact the health and medical education department. Most of the officers refused to either deny or accept the allegations by common people and doctors that people were being infected by Covid-19 and the death toll has increased due to lack of ventilators and medicines.
Health officials, both in Jammu and Srinagar, have shot many letters to their higher-ups, asking for immediate training to doctors and paramedical staff to handle ventilators and patients on them. “We have been intimating the higher-ups from the past six months to prepare additional beds, get equipment and order more ventilators due to the spread of Covid-19, but there has been no response from them,” said a senior doctor from Jammu, who claimed that Covid-19, according to medical experts, has spread to the community level, both in Jammu and Srinagar cities.
Most senior bureaucrats have been giving press conferences and also issuing press releases through the information department giving figures that all is well in Jammu and Kashmir on the Covid-19 front. Reports said that Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has expressed his displeasure over the handling of the Covid crisis by his administration in the past six months. Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education Atal Dulloo told some media outlets from Delhi that the situation was totally under control and there was nothing to worry for the common people. He attributed the recent rise in Covid-19 cases to the rapid testing being done by the health authorities in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to details available in official circles, the UT administration has been given 908 ventilators out of which 872 have been dispatched, but most of them have not been installed. “We cannot give you the figures, but some of the ventilators are yet to be utilised,” said a senior official of the health department in Srinagar. Some media reports from Delhi quoting officials have said that “not even 1% of ventilators are being utilised for treatment of the patients”.
There is raging debate in the media circles of Jammu that the funds being misused or not being used were meant for Covid-19. Officials confirmed that the Union government has given machinery, equipment, lab-testing kits, PPE kits and other logistics free of cost to the UT and they have no figures how the funds have been utilised.