Even as they continue risking their lives, several frontline workers in India have died on the line of duty while making efforts to contain the spread of the virus. From doctors who are treating Covid-19 patients to policemen manning the nationwide lockdown, here is a look at all those who have succumbed to the virus:
Ludhiana city police’s assistant commissioner of police (ACP, North) Anil Kohli, who was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus on April 12, died at SPS Hospital six days later. Kohli was a frontline officer, working 9-10 hours at the city’s busiest wholesale vegetable market, since curfew was imposed in Punjab to contain the spread of the virus. He was admitted in hospital on April 8. It is suspected that he got infected at the sabzi mandi. Ludhiana Civil Surgeon Dr Rajesh Bagga said, “The ACP’s source of infection is still not clear.”
Dr Biplab Kanti Dasgupta, the man in charge of West Bengal’s Central Medical Stores and who led the distribution of Covid-19 medical supplies to hospitals and health centres across the state, became the first frontline health provider in West Bengal to die of the virus.
The 64-year-old Assistant Director of Health Services who was admitted to a private hospital in Kolkata’s Salt Lake area, tested positive on April 17. Diabetic and hypertensive, his condition had deteriorated soon after, and he was put on ventilator support. The cause of his death has been recorded as ‘COVID pneumonia’.
After he tested positive, his family and primary contacts, including 17 more staff of the Health Department and another senior medical officer, were put in quarantine and their swab samples sent for testing. So far, his wife and family physician have tested positive for the virus and are in the same hospital. While one of his sons is stuck in another city and has been unable to return due to the lockdown, the other is in quarantine in a hotel in east Kolkata.
A 69-year-old physician and founder of one of the first big private hospitals in Meghalaya became the state’s first Covid-19 victim last week. However, the doctor was buried at a church cemetery, almost 36 hours after he died, due to protests by residents and community leaders over fears of the spread of the virus.
The family wanted to bury him in Nongpoh, where they own a house. When discussions started to cremate the body, those living near the crematorium in Shillong’s Jhalupara protested.
“The family members wanted to lay him to rest in their personal land in Ri Bhoi district, but there was some trouble. Then they wanted to have him cremated, but the public came out against it,” said Matsiewdor War Nongbri, DC, East Khasi Hills District.
Finally, on April 17, the government reached out to churches. “They responded. We are thankful to them,” Sampath Kumar, commissioner and secretary, health and family welfare department, said.
The funeral was attended by three family members. “They were not his immediate family because many of them have tested positive now,” said DC Nongbri.
The family of a 56-year-old Nellore-based doctor, who succumbed to COVID-19 in a private hospital in Vanagaram near Chennai, also faced a similar situation after the body was not allowed cremation by residents, fearing the spread of coronavirus. His body was taken back to the hospital morgue last week.
The doctor, who contracted the infection from one of his patients in Nellore, was shifted to a private hospital in Chennai a week ago for further treatment. His family members were quarantined in Nellore.
According to sources, minutes after the hospital staff arrived at the Ambattur crematorium, the scared workers asked about the cause of the doctor’s death, and refused to cremate the body claiming they lack protective gear. An argument ensued between the workers and the hospital staff, and soon, people from the surrounding area gathered and protested against the cremation. Even after the police intervened, the public refused to budge.
The staff then tried to bury the body at another crematorium, but faced opposition there too. With no option left, the staff took the body back to the hospital morgue.
A 62-year-old medical practitioner died of coronavirus in Indore earlier this month. The Indore physician’s death was perhaps the first instance of a medical practitioner succumbing to the virus in the state.
The private practitioner was not involved in treating Covid-19 patients but may have contracted it from one of his patients because he continued to work, even as many other practitioners stopped practicing days ago, officials said.
A 56-year-old Mumbai Police personnel died of COVID-19 on Monday. The deceased, who is the third Mumbai police staff to die of the virus, was posted as the head constable in the city’s traffic department. So far, a total of 107 police personnel in Maharashtra have tested positive, of whom 7 seven have recovered.
Earlier, a 53-year-old constable posted at the Protection and Security Branch, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Friday, had passed away early Sunday morning. On Friday, a 57-year-old constable posted at Vakola police station passed away at Nair hospital.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the families of the two policemen will be given Rs 50 lakh each and one member of the families given a job. He added that two senior officers have been assigned at the city and state level to look into any problems that policemen are facing. In addition, two hospitals have been earmarked for policemen facing medical issues.
Badruddin Shaikh, 67, a senior Congress corporator and former leader of opposition in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), succumbed to Covid-19 late Sunday, after being on ventilator for more than a week. Shaikh had tested positive on April 15 and was admitted at the AMC-run SVP hospital. He had hypertension and diabetes, and had recently undergone a heart surgery.
AMC leader of opposition Dinesh Sharma said he spoke with the doctor treating Shaikh, who said that two days ago, he developed symptoms of pneumonia and had also undergone dialysis thrice.