By: Zehra Shafi
Srinagar: Amidst spike in COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir, Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday said that there was every possibility about mutated strain having entered into the Union Territory.
In an exclusive interview to Precious Kashmir, DAK president and flu expert Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan said, “A mutated strain may have entered J&K and it can be from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil or any other region. We need to identify it first and then treat patients accordingly. But that is possible only when we do full genome sequencing or genetic testing of COVID-19 suspects.”
“If there are 500 positive samples, at least 10 to 15 should be sent for genomic analysis to understand the nature of this deadly virus,” he added.
The DAK president said that the past couple of weeks had witnessed a decline in the number of COVID-19 patients, both in communities as well as hospitals. “But with a huge tourist influx (both national and international), there is a possibility that a mutated strain has already sneaked into J&K,” he claimed.
Dr Nisar said that the behaviour of people in terms of following COVID-19 guidelines is also one of the reasons for resurgence of the virus in J&K. “The numbers are expected to rise in the coming days as there are still people who are susceptible to the virus,” he added.
Talking about the second wave, the DAK president said the virus has once again become dangerous and the wave that has already engulfed the region, will be at its peak till April end or the beginning of next month. “The second Covid wave is behaving aggressively and we need to understand that opening public parks, participating in large gatherings, walking in crowded markets or organising cultural events can be disastrous for Kashmiris,” he said.
Asked about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Nisar said it is the biggest gift to humanity as it can stop the virus from spreading at a larger scale.
He added that out of 1.25 crore population, only one or two lakh people in J&K have taken the two-dose shots. “If science has not given us anything, it gave us vaccinations. It is because of these medical inventions that we are alive. Diseases like Polio and Chickenpox were eradicated from the world only because of vaccines. It is the only way out,” he said.
Stressing on the fact that proper education needs to be given to people about the benefits of vaccine shots, Dr Nisar said health educators can play a very important role by explaining it to masses that vaccinations are important to keep the virus at bay. He also said it is unfortunate that people are taking it lightly, without even caring about those who are at high risk of catching the virus.
“One person can spread a virus to the entire community. But that doesn’t mean people will have to live under lockdown for years. Practically it’s impossible. So ramp up the vaccination processes and vaccinate as many people as possible and that too quickly to break the chain of virus transmission,” he said.
The DAK President urged people to adhere to health guidelines to avoid a catastrophic slipup. “Covid virus is peaking up and it may continue for months but if people follow SOPs, the virus will die down eventually and there will be a decrease in cases and fewer fatalities as compared to last year,” he said.
> Need to go for genetic testing of COVID-19 suspects
> J&K all set to witness another peak by end of this month
> Large gatherings, crowded markets, cultural events can prove catastrophic
> Vaccine biggest gift to humanity, it can stop virus from spreading