SRINAGAR — A 60-year-old tourist from Gujarat died due to COVID-19 at a hospital in Srinagar, officials said on Monday.
They said that the tourist was admitted to Chest Diseases Hospital on April 2 after testing positive though he had tested negative at Srinagar Airport just one day before.
Confirming the death, a doctor at the hospital said that the tourist was suffering from “severe COVID-19 pneumonia” and died on Sunday.
Interestingly, the tourist, like the one from Pune Maharashtra who died last Wednesday, had tested negative for the COVID-19 at the Srinagar airport on arrival to the Valley.
A few tourists are already admitted to CD hospital as well as Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial (JLNM) Hospital, two of the exclusive facilities for the management of COVID-19 patients in Srinagar, officials said.
Sources in the twin health facilities said that most of these tourists have tested negative at the airport and those who arrived by road were reportedly not even tested en route.
“Some tourists have arrived by road and told hospital authorities that they were not tested anywhere en route,” they said, raising a question about the administration’s concerns about stemming the spread of the pandemic at a time when it is rapidly spreading in India and elsewhere.
The spread has already forced the closure of schools in Jammu and Kashmir. There is also the threat of the spread of new variants of the virus, already found in at least five patients in Jammu.
A doctor told GNS that a new trend has been witnessed of late when people who had previously recovered are re-infected which strongly points towards a mutated strain. “There is a pressing need to have a more rigorous exercise to identify these strains,” the doctor said.
Last week, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) called for genetic testing of COVID-19 positive samples to look for any mutated strain of the virus.
“Genetic testing would not only detect the known mutants that might have sneaked into the Valley but also check whether any mutant has emerged within the region,” the doctors’ body said.
Sources said that it is also not the case that samples are not being subjected to genome sequencing. “There is need to increase the frequency as the cases subjected to genome sequencing are very few,” they said, adding, “re-infection in some patients could even be due to weakening antibodies but increased genome sequencing and other related tests would only increase certainty about the reasons rather than rely on hypothesis.” (GNS)