Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir CPI (M) Saturday said that the administration had “run out of options” in view of a surge in the COVID-19 infections.
The party has also questioned the efficacy of the lockdown imposed by the J&K administration to contain the disease transmission.
A statement issued by the CPI (M) in this regard said that the lockdown imposed by the administration in March “would have been useful had it been effectively used to build capacities in terms of creation of large number oxygen supported beds, instillation of oxygen generators, recruitment of additional health care workers, supply chain management of PPE kits and drugs, purchasing of additional ventilators, enhancing testing facilities”.
The party alleged that the preparations by the administration during lockdown “did not match the requirements needed to face this pandemic”.
It said that expanding capacities and medical equipment in government hospitals has been “limited and totally inadequate”.
As per The CPI (M), the total number of oxygen supported beds as of today are 2000, which it said were “inadequate and we are going to run out of beds in coming weeks”. “Oxygen will prove lifeline for all symptomatic patients but there is not a single oxygen generation plant at district hospital level, ” the party said.
It said that the oxygen generation capacity of tertiary care hospitals “will fall short and will not match the requirement”.
The party also claimed that the number of ventilators in J&K was merely around 200 “which is far less than what is required in normal times even”.
The CPI (M) further alleged that the COVID-19 response in J&K had been “mismanaged from the day one”.
“It should have been handled scientifically by medical/public health experts with administrative support but unfortunately, it was handled as if it was another law and order problem and bureaucratic supremacy completely mismanaged the COVID response, ” the party said.
It said the administration “has not adhered to science in its approach. It has not relied on health experts and epidemologists to formulate policies with regard to testing, contact tracing and isolation of people affected by the virus”.
The party suggested that a simple measure of enforcing use of masks by the general public, ensuring its availability with price control could have broken the chain of transmission, but it was “not taken timely and experts suspect community transmission had already set in”.
The CPI (M) said that there had been “distressing scenes of families frantically trying to get Covid patients admitted into hospitals; of the inability to get Covid tests done”.
It alleged that community participation was given “least importance and communication channels with the civil society were never opened to involve public opinion and create community volunteers for awareness and enforcement of SOPs and remove social stigma associated with Covid-19”.
While the focus should have been on containing Covid-19, the CPI (M) alleged that the administration “got involved in other priorities which were not needed”.
“The overall policies to tackle the pandemic and their implementation only underline the mess created by the administration. It is not the appropriate time to elaborate those priorities in this communication as focus of all of us right now must be to tackle the pandemic, ” the party said.
The CPI (M) questioned whether there was any plan with the J&K administration as of now to tackle the disease?
“There needs to be a serious response from the authorities at this critical juncture of the fight against Covid-19. Doctors and experts have predicted a grim scenario for the J&K in weeks to come, ” it added.
It suggested that the government should increase beds with high-flow oxygen in hospitals in view of the surge on the infections.
The party also urged the government to purchase more ventilators to augment the capacity of hospitals and to have more doctors to utilize those ventilators adding there was also an urgent need for staff that can run ICUs and high-dependency units.
The party said the pandemic was still in its early stages around the world and that we were in for the long haul until an effective vaccine is developed.
“The administration has to get its priorities right – strengthen the public health system on a war-footing; test, trace and isolate on a large-scale in a systematic way, ” it said.
The CPI (M) said that the “lame explanations such as the recovery rate is improving, or the fatality rate is still low compared to other places are desultory”.
It said the death rate in Kashmir valley is worrisome and if steps are not taken at war footing, the situation will get worse.
The party also appealed people to use face masks which are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used within communities.