Srinagar (net desk): As the sector scrambles to address the coronavirus pandemic, fear and anxiety be successful in Indian occupied Kashmir after four COVID-19 cases have been detected.

Hospitals inside the disputed Himalayan place have an acute scarcity of docs and paramedics, while its healthcare centers are inadequate to meet the disaster which has unsettled international locations with global-elegance medical infrastructure.

Given the scenario, residents of the valley worry the doubtlessly disastrous effects of the coronavirus pandemic after the first case of contamination become mentioned on March 19.


Apprehensions abound that this could be simply the “tip of the iceberg” as numerous hundred human beings, maximum of whom had travelled to different nations, had been positioned underneath quarantine.

In nearby Laddakh, which till August was part of Kashmir before it was separated and became a federally administered territory, thirteen cases examined fine, maximum of whom had travelled to Iran.

The Muslim-majority location has been under a strict protection and verbal exchange lockdown considering that August 5 whilst New Delhi stripped the disputed Himalayan area’s of its special popularity. The net became restored earlier this month, but it stays sluggish as 4G services are still no longer allowed.

Srinagar, Indian-occupied Kashmir’s foremost town and domestic to 1,000,000 human beings, became a ghost metropolis this week as markets were shut, public shipping banned and access of travelers confined.

“We aren’t checking out proactively and sufficient,” Junaid Mattu, mayor of Srinagar, stated. “We aren’t making ready for the worst.”
The valley’s management, which now reports to New Delhi, has taken a series of measures aimed toward containing the spread of the virus, which includes a lockdown that has grown in latest days.

The fear over the pandemic is compounded via a sense amongst Kashmiris that the administration isn't always being obvious with them.

“believe me, if I percentage a precis of day by day activities, no person in Kashmir will sleep,” Shahid Chaudhary, head of the civil administration in Srinagar, wrote on Twitter.

“permit’s preserve our egos aside, work collectively and in place of raising panic and alarm help every different to enhance. This (is) 3rd world struggle. Nothing less.”

The actual crisis, however, may well lie in Kashmir’s hospitals, which continue to be understaffed and sick-equipped to fight the outbreak.

A veteran medical doctor, the former foremost of government medical college (GMC) in Srinagar who's acquainted with the area’s healthcare centers, warned that a prime catastrophe should occur. The college has seven principal hospitals associated with it.

“We want lockdown for one month,” he instructed media on circumstance of anonymity. “If it [coronavirus pandemic] takes place here, we can be devastated. We will die like livestock.”

The physician stated Kashmir’s healthcare system is “unwell-equipped to address even everyday matters in regular instances”.
“it will crush us and devastate us, except the community intervenes,” he stated.

Samia Rashid, modern-day GMC primary, stated the outpatient branch and all non-compulsory surgical procedures were suspended in the partner hospitals.

“only emergencies will be tested and most cancers surgical procedures completed. Sufferers who do now not require immediate remedy are asked to no longer go to hospitals,” she urged.

Rashid stated the GMC administration has “more than thirteen,000 N95 masks, three,300 non-public protective device (PPE) kits,” adding that in addition they procured 122,000 triple layered masks.

Rashid stated that while there have been sufficient ventilators “to contain the state of affairs proper now”, there has been a scarcity of manpower. “Our manpower to run them all isn't enough.”

An official audit of healthcare facilities conducted in 2018 found that the prevailing manpower became “barely sufficient to run the fitness establishments in view of sustained boom of affected person glide across the nation”.

“[Kashmir] is significantly short of nursing personnel. Against a demand of 3,193 nurses … there are only 1,290 sanctioned posts of staff nurses inside the territory with a deficit of one,903 posts which need to be created,” the audit determined.

The audit referred to that the medical doctor to patient ratio within the Kashmir region is one of the lowest in India. “as compared to the physician-affected person ratio of one:2,000 in India, occupied Kashmir has one allopathic medical doctor for three,866 people towards the WHO norm of one health practitioner for 1,000 populace,” it said.

docs worry going domestic

Ahmad, a health practitioner at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital, instructed media doctors worry going domestic after paintings.

“We do no longer have the required defensive system. We simply put on a surgical mask, regular gloves and surgical robe and a cap. We can not inform a patient to maintain distance,” he stated.

“it's miles the primary area in which people come with symptoms and their first touch with a physician”.

Ahmad said doctors like him are susceptible to being exposed to coronavirus infection and “do not want to be the provider of the virus”.

“If we get inflamed, the entire health center staff could must be quarantined. We want proper gadget so that the fitness machine keeps going,” he informed Al Jazeera.

The Resident docs affiliation on the clinic, in a announcement, this week said “every affected person visiting the hospital ought to be regarded as a potential COVID-19 case” and rued the lack of shielding infrastructure and sanitisers on the clinic.

“Welfare of public relies upon on docs, and if medical doctors themselves are unwell, how can they offer healthcare to preferred public.”

At the place’s two essential hospitals, which see hundreds of sufferers daily from throughout Kashmir, docs have been installed quarantine once they evolved symptoms of COVID-19.

Amid the alarming chance of the spread of COVID-19, Kashmir also faces a crippling blockade of excessive-speed internet which has effectively hampered an powerful attention campaign a number of the human beings as well as amongst medical doctors.

Excessive-speed net services in the location had been blocked considering that August to prevent protests in opposition to the abrogation of the place’s autonomy.

Iqbal Saleem, a professor of surgical treatment at GMC, stated he could not download a COVID-19 manual for medical doctors.

“this is so irritating. Looking to download the recommendations for in depth care control as proposed via doctors in England. 24 Mbs and one hour. Nevertheless not able to do so,” he said on Twitter regarding the use of the low-velocity cellular net this is the only component available within the region.

Every other medical doctor running at a clinic in north Kashmir said the low-velocity internet turned into handicapping them when it came to getting updated records from around the globe. “We don’t realize something, and we are not capable of download research papers and so on, it’s very difficult,” he stated.

The ban of excessive-velocity internet has additionally made it impossible for plenty in Kashmir to make money working from home, one of the essential precautionary measures taken in many countries to contain the spread of the disorder.

“We don’t have the option to work from home as there is not enough mobile net speed to connect our laptops,” Arshad, an IT worker, said.

Amnesty global has condemned the non-stop suspension of excessive-speed net inside the location and asked the Indian government to completely repair it.

“In wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir should restore complete access to internet services within the place of Jammu and Kashmir and make certain that human beings have full get entry to to fitness and safety related facts,” stated Avinash Kumar, government Director of Amnesty global India, in a declaration.

Kumar stated restricting the net velocity makes it tough for humans to “navigate their way through a hard time similarly undermining their agree with inside the government”.

“The authorities of India desires to undertake a rights-respecting method to protect public fitness and restore get right of entry to to 4G pace net.”

While media asked about the healing of excessive-velocity internet, occupied Kashmir government spokesperson Rohit Kansal’s response became: “whenever there may be a few records, we are able to replace you.”

Amid the growing issues, more than a hundred and seventy lecturers from round the world have written a letter to the arena health corporation and UN special rapporteurs approximately the healing of excessive-velocity internet in Kashmir.

“despite the area reporting more than one positive cases of COVID-19, the Indian government has, criminally, barred residents from accessing dependable, excessive-speed internet. Only recently, via an administrative diktat, the Indian authorities extended the ban on excessive-pace internet till twenty sixth of March,” the letter said.