Desperate search for oxygen also in past few days
Srinagar: As the fresh wave of Covid-19 takes its grip over Kashmir valley, hundreds of calls and SOS messages have started pouring in for the requirement of concentrated oxygen and Remdesivir drug. It is a tough time for distressed families that are desperately searching for them in the market, as even the major hospitals of the valley have run out of stock.
The antiviral medicine Remdesivir, considered as a life saving drug for critically infected Covid-19 patients, has almost disappeared from the markets. The premier hospitals including SKIMS Soura, CD(Chest Disease) Hospital, and SMHS have all run out of stock, thus leaving the patients to get the critical drug on their own.
Hundreds of families of critical Covid patients for the past few days have been looking for the crucial drug in markets at different medical stores in Srinagar city and elsewhere. But, they say, all efforts have been going in vain.
“We searched at every medical store of the city but couldn’t find even a single injection of Remdesivir anywhere. There is an acute dearth of this critical drug both in the hospitals and medical stores. In this hour of distress and sorrow, a critical patient was supposed to get all the essential treatment and drugs at hospital, but they pass the buck to the families who are left in a struggle to fetch the medicine instead of attending to the patient,” Waseem Rasool, an attendant of a Covid patient, told Kashmir Reader.
However, social media is acting as a savior for patients who are in dire need of such drugs. Over the past few days, there have been hundreds of calls and SOS messages from the distressed families of critical patients admitted in various hospitals requiring Remdesivir injection on urgent basis.
“After failing to find the drug in market, we then shared our message on social media. Thankfully, the drug was arranged within two hours. I don’t know how long this will fetch fruitful results and come to the rescue of patients in distress,” Rasool said.
As the fresh wave of pandemic wreaks havoc across India and here in Kashmir, several politicians and others have turned themselves into social workers and have been volunteering to provide help to critical patients facing unavailability of essential supplies.
Former Chief Minister of J&K and Vice President of National Conference (NC), Omar Abdullah, who has a huge follower base on Twitter has been constantly updating SOS messages to help the critical patients in need of oxygen or Remdesivir besides blood and other requirements. For such patients, the SOS messages and requests and going under the hashtag #SOSJK which takes few minutes to spread all across J&K.
At SMHS hospital, there is no availability of Remdesivir injection. Officials say they have received no supply since past four days. “We had received the last supply of about 100 vials of Remdesivir injection on last Saturday. But on the same day, we exhausted all the injections to the infected patients admitted in critical condition in our wards. Since then, there has been no supply at all,” Dr Nazir Choudhary, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, told Kashmir Reader.
Similarly, at SKIMS Soura which is the largest tertiary care hospital of J&K, the families of critical patients have been left to get the crucial drug from outside as the hospital has exhausted all the supply available with them. “There is no availability of Remdesivir here. Last evening, we were left shocked after being told that there was no availability of the injection. This shows our preparedness for the situation which is yet to unfold completely,” an attendant of the patient admitted in SKIMS told Kashmir Reader.
The situation is no different at the CD hospital, where sources said that the healthcare facilities for Covid patients were running short of supplies.
Besides this, the demand for concentrated oxygen has also gone up sharply across Kashmir over past few days. A number of Covid infected patients under home isolation facing dip in oxygen levels are sending out SOS messages for the requirement of oxygen cylinders after failing to find them in the market.
Though, given the surge in demand, some NGOs (Non Government Organisations) based in different parts of valley specifically in Srinagar city have stepped in to provide oxygen and other essentials free to severe Covid-19 infected patients. But largely, such patients remain dependent on the oxygen suppliers and plants for the requirement and refilling of oxygen cylinders.
Zahoor Ahmad, the owner of Valley Oxygen Gases at Chanapora Bypass, told Kashmir Reader that they were receiving hundreds of inquiries for oxygen requirement on daily basis over past few days.
“The demand for oxygen cylinders has gone up drastically over few days. We are supplying and refilling over 250 cylinders per day on average. Till now, we have filled 6000 cylinders with oxygen supply. We have kept a minimal cost for refilling of a cylinder at 100 rupees and we’re hoping to carry with the rate forward. We are determined to help the people in need. We’re attending every phone call,” Zahoor said.
However, he said, he was facing acute shortage of flow meters required for an oxygen cylinder to discharge its flow according to the need of each patient. “Flow meters are unavailable. This is vital for a patient requiring high-flow oxygen. We have been trying hard to get its supplies but till now, haven’t succeeded. We have placed the orders in Kolkata and are hoping to get them in next few days,’’ Zahoor added.