Coronavirus (COVID-19): A day after he tested positive for Covid-19, a 56-year-old cancer patient undergoing treatment at the Delhi State Cancer Institute (DCSI) died Friday afternoon. Suffering from gallbladder cancer, the man had been shifted to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital on Thursday evening after his test results were positive.
Located in Dilshad Garden, the cancer institute has emerged as one of the coronavirus hotspots in the national capital with 22 healthcare workers and three cancer patients, including the deceased, testing positive.
The two other patients are a 40-year-old woman suffering from ovarian cancer and a 49-year-old man diagnosed with a brain tumour. According to sources, both are critical.
Health authorities believe the first case from the institute emerged on March 31, when a 34-year-old resident doctor working in the department of preventive oncology tested positive. He had last visited the hospital on March 21. According to sources, his brother and sister-in-law had come from Europe last month.
As reported by The Indian Express, after the doctor tested positive, healthcare staff such as nurses had asked for personal protective equipment, but the institute had been lackadaisical in its approach.
Dr B L Sherwal, medical superintendent at DSCI, had said, “Ours is a cancer institute and healthcare workers are dealing with cancer patients. We are not a dedicated hospital for COVID-19, which is why there was no need to have PPE kits. PPE kits are needed for those posted at isolation wards or flu centres. The government is trying its best to provide these kits to those who actually need them.”
As cases spiked, the hospital had shut down its OPD for a sanitisation process and cancer patients were shifted to Dharamshila Cancer Hospital for further treatment. “We had sent the samples of 19 patients for testing and three tested positive. The health department is trying to find out the chain of contact transmission in this case. Our hospital is only open for emergencies, other services have been shut. The patient area is being sanitised now as all indoor patients have been shifted,” said Dr Sherwal.
While there are no specific guidelines on treatment of cancer patients diagnosed with COVID-19, Dr Vinod Raina, executive director of Fortis Memorial Research Institute, said: “With regard to COVID-19, we divide cancer patients in two categories — those whose line of treatment can be deferred by two-three months without causing any undue harm, and those where treatment cannot be deferred and immediate intervention is needed. Cancer patients, if they are receiving treatment, are immuno-suppressed because of the treatment. So they have to take extra precaution as compared to the general population. They are at higher risk of succumbing or getting an infection.”
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