‘Virus seems to have mutated, as more severe cases and young patients are coming now’
Srinagar: The J&K health department has decided to conduct Covid-19 test of more patients identified by doctors as having Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) and Influenza like illness (ILI).
Officials said the protocol has been modified to identify Covid-19 cases at early stage to minimise deaths.
“It’s a huge concern for the health department that Covid related deaths are increasing in Kashmir despite test augmentation,” said an epidemeologist.
Over the last two weeks the valley has seen a spike in cases of young persons afflicted with Covid19 along with bilateral pnemonia, he said.
“So, we proposed new guidelines to the government, which they approved,” the official said.
Nodal Officer for Covid-19 at the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir, Dr Qazi Haroon confirmed the development and said the new protocol will help the health department to identify Covid-19 patients early.
“It will also minimise deaths due to Covid-19, especially of those having mild or no symptoms initially but who turn serious suddenly,” he said.
District sampling teams have been asked to collect more samples of persons with SARI or ILI, he said.
“The instructions in this regard were already issued to district health authorities in a recent review meeting,” Dr Haroon said.
“The analysis will pave the way for the age-wise and area-wise report of Covid-19 cases and based on their severity,” he said.
“District surveillance teams will provide this information to the sampling team, which in turn will intensify sampling in the areas with more such cases,” he said.
The guidelines classify people into two groups — high risk and low risk. People over 50 years of age and primary and secondary contacts of positive cases are in the high-risk group of Covid-19.
“People with symptoms of SARI and ILI along with low oxygen content are also sampled on priority in the districts,” the nodal officer said.
The epidemeologist told Kashmir Reader that the virus might have mutated, which is why more severe cases are coming and increasingly in the age group of 30 to 50 years.
“Bilateral pneumonia in young patients suggests that there is a new strand in the air,” he said.
The health department has so far collected more than 2 lakh samples from suspected coronavirus cases since April 1, including 62,051 travellers.