Jammu division that is witnessing more than half the Covid deaths being reported within the Union territory, is now bracing up to tackle the spread of virus in rural and far flung areas.
Out of 71 deaths within UT on Tuesday, 39 were from Jammu region. 14 were from districts like Doda, Rajouri, Kathua and Udhampur.
Between May 1 and 18, 446 deaths were reported in the UT, 281 of them within Jammu division. Since the beginning of pandemic 802 people have lost their lives in Jammu which is highest for any district in Jammu and kashmir. Overall, 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 extremely transmissible B.1.617 variant. GMC being the biggest hospital in Jammu division has 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 mentioned that due to lack of proper health infrastructure in rural areas, patients rush to hospitals like GMC, reaching seven-eight days after being infected, often with lung damage. Not many hospitals are equipped to take care of patients, an official related to 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 patients.
On Wednesday, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha directed deputy commissioners and the Health Department to arrange a five-bed Covid care centre in every UT panchayat, with at least one oxygen-supported bed. Provisions related to ambulances with oxygen support will also be made, he said. The individuals who need isolation at these centres shall be recognized by panchayats, medical employees or ASHA employees, while mobile testing vans will visit villages.
Talking about vaccines, UT is also suffering with shortage of vaccines like other parts of country. Beginning of vaccination for the 18-45 age group was introduced over a fortnight in the past, but it is yet to begin at most locations. In the 45-plus group, 59% of the inhabitants is believed to have received their primary dose. On Tuesday, the UT received 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.