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Social stigma pushing up Covid deaths in Kashmir: DAK

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Srinagar, July 03: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday said fear of getting stigmatised leads to delay in seeking medical help which is the main reason for increase in number of Covid-19 deaths in Kashmir valley. “Patients arrive at hospitals only when their symptoms worsen,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan. “Early detection of cases is the key to reduce Covid-19 deaths,” he said. “But, patients come to hospitals late when their lungs are largely affected which decreases their chances of survival,” he added. Dr Nisar said instead of making people aware about the disease, an environment of fear and panic has been created. “Fear and misconceptions about the pandemic have resulted in social stigma for both patients and their families,” he said. Dr Nisar said stigma makes people to hide their illness and keep them away from seeking health care. “There is an urgent need to scale up awareness among people on Covid and do away with the stigma that has come to surround pandemic,” he said. Dr Nisar said shifting critically-ill patients who are on life-support from various hospitals to Covid designated hospitals is also contributing to increased mortality. “Shifting them to dedicated hospitals is leading to interruption and delay in treatment.” “Most of these Covid death cases have underlying medical conditions which is liable to get neglected in Covid centers for want of specialists and equipments,” he said. “We need to revisit the existing protocol for shifting critically-ill patients, who test positive for Covid-19 at different hospitals,” he added. Dr Nisar said another reason for surge in deaths is lack of ECMO machines in Covid centres. “Most of Covid patients who get placed on conventional ventilators die, but ECMO machine saves patients from the brink of death,” he said. “While plasma therapy has proved life-saving in critically-ill Covid patients, hospitals in Kahmir have nothing to offer to dying Covid patients,” said Dr Nisar.

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