Jammu and Kashmir has been facing the relentless onslaught of COVID-19 cases. Nearly 5000 cases were reported in the last 24 hours while 50 more people succumbed to the virus during the time as 1700 hours on May 6. Moreover, active positive cases have raced to 41666—14686 in Jammu and 26980 in Kashmir. It is not the J&K alone but the entire country which is facing the onslaught of covid-19. There were 4,12,262 fresh coronavirus cases and 3,980 deaths, taking the country’s tally to 2,10,77,410, as per the latest update by the Union Health Ministry.
India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5, and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20, and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19. India crossed the grim milestone of 2 crore on May 4.
Amid all this despair, public health response has also had to combat a connected scourge of hospital fires in several states, claiming many precious lives. Reacting to such incidents, the Jammu and Kashmir administration, and rightly so, has ordered safety audits of covid-19 hospitals when oxygen generation plants, manifolds (large gas cylinders), other mechanical systems and dedicated feeders are functioning round the clock in these facilities. The Deputy Commissioners of all the districts are required to conduct fire safety and mechanical system audits of all covid dedicated facilities to ensure that no fire related incident occurs at first place, as per the divisional administration of both Kashmir and Jammu divisions. They are required to constitute joint teams to conduct audits at the earliest. It is imperative that they should put out a checklist to prevent fires and also save patients in case such untoward happens. They should ensure that all the fire safety guidelines for hospitals issued by the government of India in last year, prioritising a strict compliance strategy, third party accreditation on safety, and adoption of a fire response plan are in place.
Professionals call for ICUs to be equipped with an exhaust system to prevent smoke accumulation in a fire, ventilation cut-outs to prevent a blaze from spreading, periodic maintenance of safety equipment and, very importantly, an evacuation plan for the sickest patients, who may be attached to life-saving equipment. All these needed to be ensured and important within possibile little time.