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J&K: 65-yr-old first COVID-19 death; 8-month-old among 3 to test positive

A doctor who is privy to the case told The Indian Express that the patient died in Srinagar Chest disease hospital, where he was admitted from last few days.

Written by Adil Akhzer | Srinagar | Updated: March 27, 2020 1:37:52 am
A Kashmiri health worker enters the hotel used as quarantine center by authorities during lockdown in Srinagar, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. ( AP Photo)

A 65-year-old Srinagar man who reported positive for coronavirus two days ago died at a local hospital on Thursday morning, marking the first COVID-19-linked death in the Valley.

On Thursday evening, Jammu and Kashmir administration’s spokesperson Rohit Kansal stated that two siblings, aged seven and eight months old, have tested positive for coronavirus.

The siblings are grandchildren of a Srinagar man who has tested positive for coronavirus and has travel history to Saudi Arabia, Kansal tweeted. The man tested positive on March 24, he stated.

In another tweet, he said a positive case has been reported from Rajouri in Jammu region and that this person was in contact of the deceased patient.

The deceased, a senior member of Tableeghi Jamaat, a non-political Islamic outfit, was originally from Sopore. He had travelled to several places, including Delhi, Deoband, Jammu and north Kashmir’s Sopore and was suspected to have spread the virus to many people, The Indian Express had reported on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, four people, also Tableeghi Jamaat members from Hajin in Bandipora district, who were the dead patient’s “contacts”, tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.

A doctor privy to the case told The Indian Express that the patient died at Srinagar’s Chest Disease Hospital. “The patient had shown signs of improvement, but he suffered a cardiac arrest in the morning and died,” the doctor said.

Late Thursday afternoon, sources said, the body was taken directly for burial in his native village in Sopore and the burial was conducted under strict guidelines.

“On doctors’ recommendation, the body was not taken to his home and was directly taken for burial. Only close family members were present at the funeral,” a Health Department official in Sopore said. “Those who took part in the burial were given proper kits and they have been kept under surveillance. The vehicle which transported the body from the Srinagar hospital was fumigated.”

The police increased security arrangements in Sopore to deter any big gathering at the burial.

What worries officials in Kashmir’s Health Department is the travel history of the deceased, which has prompted a massive contact-tracing exercise. On Thursday, the Pulwama administration declared all mosques be designated as quarantine centres where recently returned Tablighi Jamaat members are residing.

Officials said the man flew in from Jammu on March 16 and reported to SKIMS medical college in Bemina on March 21. From there, he was referred to SKIMS, Soura. A day later, he visited SMHS Hospital in Srinagar, where doctors diagnosed him as a suspected coronavirus patient and referred him to Chest Disease Hospital for further treatment.

While it is not clear why hospital authorities did not admit the patient on March 21, his family members claimed that doctors at SKIMS-Saura “refused to admit the patient because he had no international travel history”. A doctor at SKIMS-Saura said they are looking into the matter.

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has marked an inquiry after he received report that the patient (now deceased) “was not handled as per the protocol” at SKIMS Bemina. In the order issued Wednesday, Divisional Commis-sioner Pandurang Kondbarao Pole stated that the patient reported to the hospital’s casualty on March 21. The order states: “…the report further reveals that the patient who was later tested positive for COVID-19 has not been handled as per the protocol required for treating patients.the report further reveals that knowing the travel history of the patient and observing the symptoms of the patient, the Hospital administration has not brought it into the notice of Divisional/District/ Police authorities when he left the hospital without getting admitted.”

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