The identity of the author, who is a doctor practicing at a government hospital in Srinagar, has been concealed upon request for security concerns.

When Kashmir registered its first COVID-19 related death on 26 March, uncertainties of a possible progression towards to community transmission stage grew stronger. But prior to that, there was a lot of stir on social media when the family claimed that they were send from pillar to post on 21 March in Jehlum Valley Medical College (JVC) and Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) after giving complete medical history [confirmed by patient’s card at JVC-SKIMS]; however, at the same time nearly three doctors and paramedics at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital claimed that the attendants of the family held the patient’s complete travel history as well as the previous day’s consultation at the hospitals – where he was labeled with a potential COVID-19 patient [card at SMHS emergency confirms this] – and was shifted on basis of pure suspicion for COVID-19. Later, his test came positive.

However, all of these things are of least importance and seem to have drawn attention from some core facts, the responsibility of which needs to be fixed and answered.

Out of the thirteen confirmed cases of the disease, nine have been in contact with the deceased patient as mentioned by the administration. The question remains that if the person had travelled from as far as Andaman and Nicobar to Uttar Pradesh and to New Delhi – with possibly sharing space inside a mosque with people from different countries, including Malaysia – why didn’t the family thoroughly report the travel details with authorities and why wasn’t he self-quarantined?

As per reports, the said family has many doctors, including the attendant who had taken the patient to various hospitals on 21-22 March; so, despite advisories by the government and health department, why was he allowed to address a large gathering in Samba? When he came back to Kashmir, why was he allowed by the doctors in his family to address gatherings in Sopore, north Kashmir, where he stayed overnight and got in contact with numerous people, some of whom even tested positive later. Why weren’t the authorities informed of the travel history and why didn’t the doctors in the family quarantine the affected at home? Does it tantamount to criminal negligence by all those who are associated with medical field in the family? Or is it a severe lapse on part of the administration to succinctly convey the travel, contact, and quarantine advisories?

Despite repeated advisories by administration and health authorities, people are involving themselves in social and religious gatherings – if we have another similar chain of cases, who is to blame?

The patient is also said to have attended Friday prayers in Hyderpora mosque in Srinagar – now, a large members of residents in that colony are under self-quarantine. Many people from the area also claimed that the patient had already developed symptoms of the disease, including cough, under which he should have been isolated – but was negligently allowed to intermingle with people in the mosque and at his home. The contact history as such is humungous. 

Who is to be held responsible for that? Or should the religious character of certain people involved, deter us from asking the questions? In that case are we ready for a similar chain repeated among us?

All these events clearly points to the explosive nature of transmission of COVID-19, importance of informing the authorities and self-quarantining. The government and doctors cannot be always held responsible for everything bad that transpires among us. We as people have to take responsibilities of our actions, we have to recognise our duties towards ourselves, our own families, and our society. Despite repeated advisories by administration and health authorities, people are involving themselves in social and religious gatherings – if we have another similar chain of cases, who is to blame?

It is a right time that we recognise our responsibility as well as the exponentially infective potential of this disease. Italian COVID-19 crises started with just three Chinese being tested positive for the infection and the within less than two months it snowballed into more than 9,000 deaths. Are our medical resources up for such a catastrophe?

We need to ask ourselves these questions, we can’t always pass the buck. Not the administration, not the doctors, we as people are responsible for whatever happens in the next upcoming months, like we have been responsible for what has transpired during the last two weeks.

The Kashmir Walla is committed to publishing varied views. If you want to respond to this or add more, you can write to us at [email protected]

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