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Doctor tells Modi how Kashmir is fighting Covid blues

Eminent pulmonologist Dr Naveed Nazir has become a household name in the valley ever since he contracted Covid-19 while treating patients at the Government Chest Diseases Hospital (Pic: Courtesy Twitter/@ians_india)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 5-minute-long conversation in his weekly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ with a Kashmiri doctor on Sunday went viral in the regular as well as the social media as it carried a reassurance for the millions in the Valley.

Eminent pulmonologist Dr Naveed Nazir has become a household name in the valley since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year when he himself contracted the infection while treating Covid-19 patients at the Government Chest Diseases Hospital, associated with the Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar. He and Principal GMC Srinagar Dr Samia Rashid were among the first frontline Covid warriors who themselves turned positive for Covid-19 in the middle of 2020.

Both the Srinagar-based doctors, as also hundreds of the medical and paramedical staff at different hospitals recovered and all of them are again engaged in fighting the pandemic with limited resources in Kashmir. So, Prime Minister Modi chose Dr Naveed for a special purpose. The radio conversation between the two allayed the fears and the demolished conspiracy theories which had been in circulation since long. It was rare of an Indian Prime Minister praising a Kashmiri doctor’s duty of fighting the coronavirus in the holy month of fasting and giving him Ramadan greetings.

Dr Naveed explained to the Prime Minister how an atmosphere of fear had been created with the surfacing of the first Covid-19 cases and some fatalities, terrifying even the doctors and other medical and paramedical staff in March-April 2020. According to him, the fear snowballed into a sort of “death sentence” for a common man, including many of the doctors. “But gradually we overcame the fear and everybody got convinced that the pathogen wouldn’t harm anyone in the full protection gear and observing precautions as per the standard operating procedure.

Dr Naveed said that the Government Chest Disease Hospital Srinagar where he works as Medical Superintendent and a Professor of Pulmonology was the first Covid-19 dedicated hospital in Jammu and Kashmir. He narrated how an unprecedented medical emergency threatened to cripple the system but the doctors and other hospital staff kept fighting it out and their joint efforts resulted in the defeat of the first wave of coronavirus.

“Soon it became clear that 90-95 percent of the Covid positive patients, symptomatic as well as asymptomatic, recover with medication and even without any medication. Now we are through wave-2 of the pandemic but there’s no need to panic. We just have to observe the standard operating procedures like wearing of the face masks, keeping our hands clean with soap and sanitizers, maintaining social distance and avoid getting into the gatherings”, Dr Naveed told Prime Minister Modi.

In reply to Modi’s question about the fears revolving around the vaccination, Dr Naveed said: “As of now, there’s no ultimate, effective medicine available across the world to neutralise the coronavirus. All that we have in hand to protect ourselves and debilitate its intensity is the vaccine. Both the vaccines available in India have undergone extensive trials and shown over 60% efficacy”.

“Some 15-16 lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir have taken the first or both jabs but still there are unlimited myths and conceptions regarding the vaccine in social media. We have noticed that no substantial contraindication has surfaced till date. There’s no significant side effect. Some people have turned Covid positive after taking the injection. But we are making it clear that an infection can happen but it will not be fatal. This is the time that all fears and myths should die and everybody of 18 years of age and above must come forward to take the vaccine”, Dr Naveed asserted.

Previously in January this year, Prime Minister had spoken to a number of the doctors and beneficiaries of a special health insurance cover at Government Medical College Jammu and Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura Srinagar.