by Khalid Bashir Gura
SRINAGAR: The Covid19 pandemic has altered the meanings of every aspect of life. It has dictated necessities that were unimaginable pre-pandemic.
Within the crowded cramped alleys in the old city, the residential old houses could barely manage the crowd and rush. Thus, in moments of joy and sorrow, the old city residents would pack their pillows and rushed to nearby marriage halls, which were unlocked during functions. From the onset of spring till late autumn, the marriage halls were booked and the hall would reverberate with the marriage songs, a commotion of guests, and aroma of Kashmiri Wazwaan.
But change is the only constant in life. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020 spring, these halls are deserted and now some of them are being converted into makeshift Covid-19 hospital and wellness centres. This change sent shivers down the spine as now who will wish to go to marriage hall?
As the Covid-19 cases continue to soar, the healthcare infrastructure is getting overwhelmed with a huge flow of patients in Kashmir. There is no availability of hospital beds and ICU spaces are shrinking and social media is flooded with SOS’s for the beds and spaces.
As part of the initiative to help reduce the load on tertiary hospitals, Kashmir-based NGO Ehsaas International in collaboration with Srinagar Municipal Corporation ( SMC), and Voluntary Medicare Society (VMS) have converted one marriage hall into, what is being called, a Covid19 Wellness Centre.
Hakim Mohammad Ilyas, founder and General Secretary of Ehsaas International, said that they are setting up three 50 bedded Covid19 facilities in Srinagar. These centres will have all modern facilities including oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, doctors, and paramedics. “The SMC has provided us space for three community marriage halls at Babademb, Nowshera, Hyderpora for these canters,” he said.
According to him, these makeshift hospitals will cater to only moderately ill patients. After getting discharged from the tertiary care hospitals, the patients can be handled by us and provided with the required oxygen support and medical care. “This will leave the hospital space open for other critically ill patients,” he said.
Presently, the patients of JLNM who are recuperating and need not high-speed oxygen are being shifted to the marriage hall at Baba Demb.