A 52-year-old man who was part of a group that toured Sri Lanka in March became the first COVID-19 casualty in Vadodara and the seventh in the state. The man who was undergoing treatment at SSG Hospital passed away early on Thursday.
With four of his immediate family members, including his wife, daughter, son and daughter-in-law, admitted in the COVID-19 ward for treatment, his last rites were performed by staff members from the Vadodara Municipal Corporation and two members of his family. Extended family members of the deceased said that although his health deteriorated since last week.
The deceased man’s nephew (sister’s son) told The Indian Express that it was an irreparable loss, especially because the family could not even bid him a final adieu. “Last week, my uncle suffered a heart attack. We almost lost him then. He was given CPR and revived by the SSG doctors with much effort. In a way, my aunt, who is also in the ward was mentally prepared but they are all inconsolable right now. He was only 52, cheerful and loving. We never expected life to take such a nasty turn,” he said.
The family is anxious about the recovery of the other four members, including the 29-year-old daughter-in-law of the deceased, who is expecting her second child and is in the end of her third trimester. While the SSG Hospital has created a labour room equipped for emergency surgery if needed, the family says that they are praying for the members to be discharged soon.
“My cousins — son and daughter of my uncle — are yet to test negative for the virus. It is a worry for us. We are praying that all of them recover as soon as possible, especially since they are all isolated from each other at such a difficult time,” the nephew said.
According to the VMC officials, the man was cremated in the gas crematorium at Khaswadi in the city, as per protocol. VMC health officer Dr. Devesh Patel said, “We allowed their extended family members to attend the last rites in PPE suits. Four of them completed the formalities along with out staff as per protocol. The PPE suits are also to be destroyed in the same gas chamber once the body has been consigned to flames, as per the protocol.”
Dr. Rajeev Daveshwar, superintendent of SSG Hospital, said that the immediate family, which is in isolation at the COVID-19 ward, was allowed to wear PPE suits and bid their goodbyes from a distance before the body was taken away from the ward.
The family also alleged that the condition of the 52-year-old man worsened after his treatment was delayed by a local doctor who he first consulted. The patient’s niece said, “My uncle was feeling unwell immediately after his return to Vadodara. He visited a doctor on March 15 and asked him to recommend a COVID-19 test if he suspected his symptoms and also informed the doctor that he had visited Sri Lanka.
The doctor assured him that he was only suffering viral flu and prescribed medicines. Two days later also, my uncle insisted that he was not feeling better but the doctor told him to continue with the medicines. It was only on the fourth day that my uncle was taken for a test to SSG and he was already in bad condition. The authorities did not even quarantine this doctor while our entire family was isolated for 14 days.”
VMC officer Dr. Devesh Patel, however, denied the allegations and said that the doctor based in Nizampura has been in home quarantine after the administration traced contacts of the patient following his admission to SSG Hospital.
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