Rashid Paul

Covid-19: Kashmir has entered community level transmission, say experts

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Suggest antibody testing to save population from catching infection

Srinagar: Though the J&K administration continues to be in a denial mode, medical experts believe that Kashmir has entered stage three of coronavirus.

Renowned immunologist and an expert in molecular medicine, Prof Mushtaq Siddique believes that novel coronavirus has entered stage III of infection in Kashmir. However, the government in J&K continues to be in a denial mode saying there is no evidence to substantiate the premise.

“Although many experts believe that Kashmir has not entered into the community level of transmission, but many believe it has. I also think that Kashmir is already in stage III of the COVID 19 infection,” Siddique told this scribe during a telephonic interview.

“The infection has gone into the community transmission mode because we have so many positive cases who had neither any history of travel to infected areas nor a record of contact with the corona infected people,” said Siddique.

For medical experts, community transmission is a worrisome phenomenon as it means the virus can be widespread in a community. It also means the illness is spreading in the community without anyone knowing its source.

“The government claims are not empirically accurate. There have been so many instances where asymptomatic people tested positive”, said Prof Siddique.

The assertion of Siddque is also seconded by senior medical specialists.

“We are definitely in stage III of the novel corona infection,” said a doctor treating COVID 19 positive patients at SK Institute of Medical Institute Srinagar.

The doctor, wishing not to be identified, said, “almost everybody in Kashmir will get infected with novel coronavirus in the months ahead.  But because of the social containment measures the disease will not explode as has been the case in USA and Europe. It will only delay the large scale outbreak,” he said.

Suggesting antibody testing, Prof Siddique, also the vice chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology Kashmir says “By antibody testing we can exponentially raise the scale of testing and save rest of the population from catching infection.”

“Antibody tests make us know the exposure of the population to virus on a larger scale. It is very simple, does not need high end technology or manpower and is very cost effective. Our district and sub district hospitals can do it,” he said.

Stressing for antibody testing, Pulmonary Medicine and Infectious Disease, expert Prof Parvaiz A Koul says the, “finest model to control the coronavirus infectious disease is to identify it by testing more and more persons and isolating them for prevention of further infections.”

The government, according to Prof Siddique, has restricted its corona detection strategy to PCR based tests conducted on symptomatic patients.

Antibody testing needs to be done immediately to arrest the transmissions, he said.

Meanwhile, the government on 4th of this month declared entire Kashmir as a red zone and strictly restricted the movement of the people.

The number of COVID 19 positive cases is moving up in J&K and 1065 were recorded positive when this report was filed. However 513 persons including an 85 year old person have recovered from the deadly disease. The pandemic has consumed 11 lives in the union territory, which is very low when compared to pan India morbidity percentage.


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