Uttar Pradesh’s Technical Education Minister Kamal Rani Varun, who had underlying medical conditions, died of the novel coronavirus at Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI) in Lucknow on Sunday. Two of her BJP colleagues — Jal Shakti Minister Mahendra Singh and state party unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh — also tested positive for the disease.
The 62-year-old, the only woman with a Cabinet portfolio in the Yogi Adityanath government, is the first minister in Uttar Pradesh to succumb to the coronavirus. An MLA from Ghatampur in Kanpur Nagar, she was also a member of the 11th and 12th Lok Sabha.
Varun, survived by her daughter, was cremated at the Bhairo Ghat crematorium here with police honours. The state government announced state mourning and the national flag was lowered.
According to officials at SGPGI where Varun breathed her last at 9:30 am, she tested positive on July 18 after she complained of fever, cough and breathlessness.
“She also had comorbidities in the form of diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hypothyroidism. She had bilateral pneumonia during admission and was shifted to the ICU the same day because of a high oxygen requirement,” said SGPGI Director Dr RK Dhiman.
“She later required non-invasive ventilation with a high oxygen requirement. On evaluation, she had all the features of a severe disease, and she was given a Remdesivir injection followed by Tocilizumab after which she had transient improvement for a few days. But her condition started deteriorating again. She was immediately transfused with convalescent plasma, and steroid doses were hiked. Expert advice form Prof. Randeep Guleria, Director AIIMS, and Prof Ritesh Agarwal, PGIMER, Chandigarh, was also taken,” he added.
Dr Dhiman said Varun had a progressive severe disease “unresponsive to maximal medical therapy” and was put on a mechanical ventilator on Saturday, but her condition continued to deteriorate “with hypotension (low blood pressure) and multiorgan dysfunction”.
Condoling the death of the minister, President Ram Nath Kovind said she was well respected for serving people at the grassroots.
“Very sad with the death of Uttar Pradesh government minister Kamal Rani Varun. Her whole life was dedicated to social service. She played an important in strengthening the BJP in the state. My condolences with her family and supporters in this hour of grief,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in Hindi.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was on Sunday scheduled to review preparations for the Ram temple bhoomi pujan ceremony, cancelled his Ayodhya visit after the minister’s death. “The news of the untimely death of my colleague in the UP government, Cabinet Minister Kamal Rani Varun is saddening. The state today lost a dedicated leader. My condolences are to her family. May the Almighty let her rest at their feet. Om Shanti,” Adityanath tweeted.
Earlier in the day, a condolence motion was passed in the state Cabinet.
Meanwhile, sources said Jal Shakti Minister Mahendra Singh was tested after developing Covid-like symptoms. The sample report confirmed his infection and he was admitted to SGPGI. He could not be contacted as his phone was switched off.
Swatantra Dev Singh requested those who might have come in his contact to quarantine themselves as per the Covid-19 protocol and get themselves tested if needed. He tweeted that on the advice of doctors, he is under home isolation.
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