The designated Covid-19 Islamic cemetery in Vadodara now has space for only 20 more burials. Until May 5, the land had seen 18 burials, 16 of which were confirmed cases from Vadodara city. Since then, the cemetery has seen at least eight more deceased being put to rest, but the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is yet to make the official death toll public.
Zakir Saiyed, who oversees burials at the Matariya Qabrastan, said that at any point of the day, the burial ground has four 15-feet-deep graves ready, measuring five feet by 10 feet in size, as per the Covid-19 protocol. There were at least four burials as per the Covid-19 protocol on May 13 and 14, he added.
Saiyed said, “In the last one week, there have been at least eight burials. I am not aware what the authorities have decided, but whenever a body is brought here from the community, we accord it a respectful burial in line with the protocol. They do not give us any tally.”
At the Bahuchraji crematorium, which is in the vicinity, too, the number of cremations under the Covid-19 protocol have been close to 50 in the last fortnight, sources said.
On Friday, Vadodara’s Covid-19 tally touched 653 — a jump of 268 cases in ten days. The death toll has gone up from 31 on May 5 to 32 on May 11, when the civic body confirmed the death of of a 65-year old-man who had passed away on May 7. But there has been no confirmation on other deaths so far.
On May 7, the civic body issued a statement and said that details of Covid-19 deaths will be released only as per the guidelines of the state government. It said, “As per the circular issued by the Additional Director of Medical Education and Research, Gandhinagar on April 4, 2020, it is mandatory for a study to be conducted into every death occurring during the Covid-19 pandemic to examine every aspect of the death, for which each Medical College will constitute an audit committee comprising of a community medical expert, clinical expert -medical or pediatric and a critical care expert.”
The medical bulletin, in reference to Vadodara, further stated, “As in case of deaths due to H1N1 (a strain of swine flu), for which death audits are conducted before making it official, deaths due to Covid-19 will also be made official only after a thorough audit by the expert committees at SSG hospital and GMERS Gotri in Vadodara, in consultation with the state government.”
Medical Officer of Health, VMC, Dr Devesh Patel said, “It takes about seven to eight days for each death to be audited. During this time, even the suspected cases, who may have died while their reports were awaited, will also be buried or cremated as per the protocol.” He added that the committee is selected by the Dean of the GMERS colleges.
“The daily medical noting of the deceased patient, while he or she was under treatment, is examined in detail. They need to ascertain if the death was a plain Covid-19 death or due to pre-existing co-morbidities,” he said.
The VMC has confirmed that of the 32 deaths reported so far, seven have been due to Covid-19, 15 due to multiple co-morbidities, six due to hypertension, three due to diabetes and one due to other acute disease — the case of a 27-year-old resident of Nagarwada who also had dengue.
An expert attached to SSG hospital told this newspaper that the Covid-19 death audit also includes a visit to the deceased’s house, besides scrutiny of the medical records of the hospitals where the patient was under treatment.
“Patients with pre-existing lung disorders, history of respiratory infections or pneumonia, heart diseases, liver disease, kidney ailments, hypertension, diabetes, blood disorders, neurological disorders, cancer and others, are more susceptible to complications during the Covid-19 treatment, which would have been a successful recovery in absence of the co-morbidity. As the number of cases rise and so does the mortality, it is important to streamline the data by studying the actual reasons of death, so that the exact figures of plain Covid-19 deaths can be made available,” the expert said.
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