Newly established COVID ward at CHC Batote in district Ramban with ventilators, oxygen cylinders and bed-side concentrators (Pic: Courtesy Twitter/@DrJitendraSingh)
With the infections growing exponential and for the first time 51 patients falling to the pandemic at different hospitals on Monday, 3 May 2021, the Union Territory administration in Jammu and Kashmir has ordered establishment of Oxygen War Rooms besides Covid Control Rooms and 24×7 Call Centres at all the 20 district headquarters.
Of the 51 Covid deaths on Monday, 35 were reported in the Jammu division and 16 in Kashmir. In all, 3733 fresh Covid positive cases were reported on the same day, raising the number of the total cases in J&K to 1,87,219. Of them, 2421 persons have died since March 2020—1440 in Kashmir and 981 in Jammu. Until Monday evening, the total number of the Covid positive cases in J&K was 34576.
Like in other parts of the country, the curve of the first wave had begun attenuating in September 2020 and on some days in January and February the number of the fatalities had reached zero with less than 50 fresh infection cases being reported across Jammu and Kashmir.
Amid reports of four deaths happening due to faulty supply of oxygen at Jammu’s Batra Hospital (ASCOM) and 15-20 Covid patients dying for three consecutive days at the Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital Jammu, coupled with reports of the ICU beds falling short in Kashmir, the Covid Apex Management Group (CAMG) headed by Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam held an emergency meeting in Jammu on Monday.
According to the minutes of the meetings, a copy of which is available with India Narrative, CAMG decided to immediately set up Covid Control Rooms and 24×7 Call Centres at all the 20 district headquarters. It also decided to establish a central Oxygen War Room under the command of the Principal Secretary Industries which would receive feedback from two Subsidiary War Rooms to be headed by the Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu. These will be manned by Director Industries Kashmir and Jammu as all the private oxygen manufacturing units function under their control.
“The War Rooms will monitor and manage the supply and distribution of oxygen within the Divisions. The War Rooms will be in constant touch with all the consumers and suppliers of oxygen and take immediate necessary steps whenever needed. The phone numbers of the War Room shall be known to all Heads of the Hospitals and other concerned people”, minutes of the CAMG meeting read.
For the purpose of managing the spiralling flow of the Covid patients to the hospitals, the CAMG decided that the Covid Control Rooms at the district headquarters would monitor all issues and arrangements while the 24×7 Call Centres at district level would receive calls and assist the patients in admission and treatment at the appropriate hospital.
Telephone numbers of these Centres would be made public through print media, electronic media and social media and services through bulk SMS on Swasthya Nidhi Data App.
Doctors on duty with operators would examine the incoming patients and refer them to Category-II hospitals like Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and GMC only through Triage Centres set up at Chest Disease Hospital Srinagar and Jammu.
The referral hospitals such as SKIMS, GMC Srinagar, GMC Jammu and other referral hospitals shall not admit patients unless referred to by the Triage Centres or a District Hospital. The entire triage system will be monitored by the concerned Divisional Commissioners with the assistance of concerned Directors of Health Services to ensure efficient functioning.
The CAMG directed an audit of the supply, stock and utilisation of oxygen at all civil and Army hospitals. The demand estimate will cover the 4200 beds approximately available at Category (1) and Category (2) Covid institutions. It will also have a projection for the demand for oxygen if the beds increase to 7000. It will also have a separate assessment for Covid Care Centres with a capacity of 20,000 of which 5,000 may be provided oxygen cylinders. Now the medical oxygen supplies of the pool would be available as per a schedule on 3rd, 10th, 17th and 31st May.
Since the entire oxygen production has been already diverted to the hospitals, authorities would initiate action against unauthorised use of oxygen under Epidemic Diseases Act. The CAMG also directed Directors of Health Services Kashmir and Jammu to arrange for mobile Vaccination facilities with the assistance of Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Jammu Municipal Corporation.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has simultaneously announced a host of special incentives for the medical staff fighting the coronavirus pandemic. All the Faculty members, consultants and doctors at SKIMS and GMCs, who were scheduled to retire from May to November 2021, have been granted extension of service till 31 December 2021. Over 17,000 medical staff would get benefit of the special incentives.
Sinha also announced special incentives of Rs 10,000 per month for Resident doctors, Post-graduates and Medical Officers, Rs 7,000 per month for nursing and paramedical staff and Rs 5,000 for drivers, sweepers, attendants and other class-IV employees. It will be initially for three months, beginning from May 2021.