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Covid-19: In Mumbai, 63-year-old dies; kin say goodbye from isolation ward

His wife and son, both tested positive for coronavirus and themselves in isolation at Mumbai's Kasturba Hospital, bid their final farewell from the isolation ward, from where the body was taken to Shivaji Park crematorium on Tuesday afternoon.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala , Sagar Rajput | Mumbai | Updated: March 19, 2020 1:34:26 am
A 59-year-old Philippine national, diagnosed on March 14, also remains in serious condition at Kasturba Hospital.

A 63-year-old became the third victim of Covid-19 in India, and the first in Maharashtra, six days after he tested positive.

His wife and son, both tested positive for coronavirus and themselves in isolation at Mumbai’s Kasturba Hospital, bid their final farewell from the isolation ward, from where the body was taken to Shivaji Park crematorium on Tuesday afternoon.

Before that, six relatives spent the entire morning in the hospital trying to figure out how to go about the cremation of a coronavirus-infected body, and whether it would be allowed by civic authorities.

A 59-year-old Philippine national, diagnosed on March 14, also remains in serious condition at Kasturba Hospital.

The 63-year-old, who ran an import-export business, was in Dubai for business between February 25 and March 5. “Initially (upon arrival), he showed symptoms of coronavirus – he was coughing heavily. He had a cold and his body temperature started rising. For the next three days, he was at home; his son and wife provided him medication,” his son-in-law said in his statement to the police.

On March 8, he was admitted to a private hospital in Mumbai. At the time of admission, he did not disclose his travel history, it is learnt. When he developed respiratory distress, and disclosed his travel history, his nasal swab was taken – he tested positive on March 13.

He was shifted to Kasturba Hospital a day later. He was the first patient in Maharashtra to undergo treatment using two anti-viral drugs used to suppress viral load in the body – Ritonavir and Lopinavir. “His health improved in between due to the drugs, and we thought he would recover,” a health official said.

But it was short reprieve.

He had high blood pressure, pneumonia, inflammation in heart muscles and a high heart rate, and was put on a non-invasive ventilator. The man succumbed at 7.45 am on Tuesday.

The latest Lancet study shows that 8 per cent of all Covid-related deaths in China had an existing history of heart disease.

BMC’s additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “We decided to take a humanitarian approach, and the body was cremated as per the family’s wishes. We wanted the cremation to take place in an electric or CNG crematorium close to Kasturba Hospital.”

An infectious body, as per WHO protocols, does not need an autopsy to prevent doctors from getting exposed to body fluids of the infected person. No autopsy was carried out on the 63-year-old’s body.

As they sat near the mortuary in the hospital, a family member, with gloves and mask on, said it took some time for the hospital and the police to decide whether to hand over the body or cremate it themselves.

Finally, the 63-year-old’s body was wrapped in a leak-proof plastic bag, zipped till the neck, and encased in a glass coffin so that relatives could see the face but not come in contact with the body. It was taken in a bio-hazard-proof vehicle for cremation at around 3 pm.

Eight family members were screened after he was confirmed; only his wife and son tested positive. Eight doctors, nurses and staffers in private hospital who had come in contact with him tested negative, officials said.

An Agripada police official said initially they were confused whether to record this as an accidental death or natural death, but based on doctor’s opinion natural death was registered.

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