Chandrakant Pendurkar’s elder son wishes that his father’s fever was taken seriously the first time he visited the hospital on April 16. The 57-year-old went on to become the first Mumbai Police personnel to succumb to COVID-19. “I wish my father was tested at Kasturba Hospital. The doctors told him that he was not infected. They gave him medicine for fever and sent him back,” said his son.
The medicines, he said, brought the fever down but did not help the cough . “My father went to work the next day. That’s when his health deteriorated further… I wish there were more testing centres for police and other emergency service providers. They should be on everyone’s priority list.”
On April 22, when Pendurkar was struggling to breathe, his family rushed him to Kasturba Hospital. “We were told no beds are available. Doctors referred us to Nair Hospital, where we could admit my father only after contacting a senior police officer,” the son said.
BMC spokesperson Daksha Shah said, “I am not aware of this case, but I am sure that the doctors must have advised the deceased to stay home… he should have rested for some days instead of going to work.” Asked why he was turned away by Kasturba Hospital, Shah said, “If no beds are available, they will have to refer the patient to another hospital.”
The family stays in a 10×10 room in Worli. With Pendurkar gone, the elder son is now the sole breadwinner. Pendurkar’s wife (54), sons (27 and 25) and daughter (23) are currently in quarantine.
After Pendurkar, two more constables have died of COVID-19. The state has announced a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the families of the deceased and a government job for a family member.
The second casualty in the department was Sandeep Surve (53) of protection and security branch, who died on Sunday. Surve had served in the city police for 27 years and recovered from a tumour in the thymus in his chest in 2017. “His immunity had weakened as a result of the treatment,” said his elder brother, who also works in Mumbai Police.
Surve, the brother said, got himself tested after feeling shortness of breath. His brother said he received plenty of support from from doctors and his employers. “The doctor did their best but it wasn’t to be,” he added. The brother said Surve’s death should be a wake-up call for the city. “Residents should learn to stay indoors and not raise their hands on police personnel, doctors and emergency workers. That is the only way we can defeat the virus. I feel proud that my brother died serving the country.”
The son of a 56-year-old constable posted at Kurla Traffic Division, who passed away on Monday, declined to speak to The Indian Express.