If there was one man who stood like a sentinel against the deadly coronavirus Covid-19 in the last one year in Kashmir, it is Naveed Nazir Shah. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interaction with Shah on Sunday morning in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme only put a stamp on the leading pulmonologist’s contribution in fighting the pandemic.
“It was a pleasant surprise when I heard the Prime Minister’s voice. I feel honoured that the PM chose to hear from me about how we are dealing with the virus,” Dr Shah told News 18 excitedly.
The 43-year-old head of department at Chest Diseases Hospital, Srinagar, has been treated more than 2,000 patients at the CD hospital with about 1,800 recoveries. “Our hospital has ensured more than 90 per cent people recovered from the virus,” he said.
Dr Shah said the past one year has been hectic and professionally challenging given that they had to cope with a new virus that no one had any idea about. “I am glad a lot of research has now gone into it. Though the virus will remain in the eco-system, but doctors and researchers will eventually defeat it. Even its mutants will be taken care of by vaccines which will have cent per cent efficacy,” he said.
Dr Shah had earlier told PM Modi that though people afflicted with the virus were frightened during the first wave, there is enough awareness at present among medical practitioners as well as patients. “There is a lot of literature and research available to fight the disease,” he told Modi during a telephonic conversation. “If we adhere to protective measures such as wearing masks, using hand sanitisers and also maintain physical distancing by avoiding social gatherings, we can overcome the pandemic and carry on our daily work,” he further said.
When the PM sought to know about people’s response to vaccines, Dr Shah said though there was a lot of misconceptions and myths around the vaccine initially, now people were coming forward for the jab. “Close to 15 lakh residents of Jammu and Kashmir have been inoculated and more are keen to take it,” he said. More than 20 lakh people have taken the jab so far in the Union territory.
Dr Shah has been a face of the fight against coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir working round-the-clock for the last one year. He had taken leave only when he and his family members had to self-isolate after he came in contact with a COVID- positive patient. Later, he contracted the infection.
Dr Shah had also volunteered to take responsibility and convert CD hospital into a Covid Care centre which has the highest number of beds for infected patients.
He oversaw facilities were upgraded in the hospital and beds were made available with oxygen/suction points and bedside monitors. Besides, new oxygen plant was installed.
Juggling between treating patients and giving technical and administrative inputs, he ensured the archaic laboratory at the hospital was upgraded and equipped with latest analysers with testing of different markers for COVID. An intensive care unit was also set up and it has till date intubated over 100 COVID-19 patients, the highest in the state.
He has also worked over the last few months with a nearby hospital, named Kashmir Nursing home, to help turn it into a COVID care centre as the number of patients continued to rise.
A member of many national and international medical advisory panels that formulate guidelines to study and treat COVID, Dr Shah has his feet on the ground.
“In the last one year, I have seen very critically ill and elderly people who had been clung to ventilators for days walk back home, while young men with minor infections succumbing to the virus. It is heart wrenching,” he said, adding, “But we will soon be able to stop the virus in its tracks. Science will beat hell out of the deadly virus.” Dr Shah is not giving up. He is taken a guard to shield his people hit by the pandemic.