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Jammu bears load of UT’s Covid cases, spread now in rural areas

As many as 446 deaths were reported in the UT between May 1 and 18, 281 of them in the Jammu division.

Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu |
May 20, 2021 2:25:12 am
A Covid-19 patient receives oxygen outside a government hospital in Jammu on Wednesday. (AP)

SEEING more than half the coronavirus cases and deaths being reported in the Union territory, the Jammu division is now battling spread in rural areas. Of the 39 reported dead in Jammu on Tuesday (out of the total 71 deaths in the UT), 14 were from districts like Doda, Rajouri, Kathua and Udhampur.

As many as 446 deaths were reported in the UT between May 1 and 18, 281 of them in the Jammu division. In all, 802 people have lost their lives in Jammu district since the beginning of the pandemic, the highest for any district in J&K. Overall, the Kashmir division has seen 1,784 Covid deaths, with 1,571 in Jammu.

On Monday, the border Rajouri district in Jammu saw 11 deaths, the highest for a district in the UT after 19 in Jammu district.

Dean and Principal of Government Medical College (GMC) and Associated Hospitals, Jammu, Dr Shashi Sudan Sharma said the National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, had confirmed that the virus strain surging in the Jammu division was the highly transmissible B.1.617 variant.

GMC is the biggest hospital in Jammu division, with 547 Covid beds and 80 Covid ICU beds. As of Wednesday, 504 of the general beds and all the ICU beds were occupied, with 416 people on oxygen support.

A senior official said that due to lack of adequate health infrastructure in rural areas, patients rush to hospitals like GMC, reaching seven-eight days after getting infected, often with lung damage. Not many hospitals are equipped to take care of patients, an official associated with Covid measures said.

Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo recently wrote to GMC, Jammu, Principal Dr Shashi Sudan Sharma, saying senior faculty members “be directed to increase their presence by making frequent rounds of wards where Covid-positive patients are admitted”. The letter followed complaints from all big government hospitals in Jammu, including GMC, Chest Diseases Hospital and Mother and Child Care in Jammu, of doctors not being available, with post-graduate students and nurses attending to patients.

In the Jammu division, the government-run hospitals and Community Health Centres together have 2,606 Covid beds.

On Wednesday, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha directed deputy commissioners and the Health Department to set up a five-bed Covid care centre in each UT panchayat, with at least one oxygen-supported bed. Provisions would also be made for ambulances with oxygen support, he said.

The persons needing isolation at these centres shall be identified by panchayats, medical staff or ASHA workers, while mobile testing vans will visit villages.

The UT, like other parts of the country, is also facing a shortage of vaccines. Though the start of vaccination for the 18-45 age group was announced over a fortnight ago, this is yet to start at most places. In the 45-plus category, 59% of the population is believed to have got just the first dose. On Tuesday, the UT got a fresh supply of 70,000-80,000 doses.

Director General, Immunization, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, said the UT was still better compared to many other states. “We have completed vaccination of all the healthcare and frontline workers,” he said.

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