The Gujarat government has awarded compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the family of 27-year-old Bhargav Patni, who along with his family members ran a fair price shop in Nagarwada area of the Vadodara city. The area was declared a red zone following a spurt of Covid-19 cases in April. Considering Patni a “corona warrior,” the government awarded compensation to his family under the decision to do so for all government employees who die of Covid-19 in the line of duty.
Patni, who tested positive for Covid-19 on April 12, was also diagnosed with dengue and passed away on April 13.
A release from the District Collector of Vadodara, Shalini Agarwal, on Wednesday, stated, “The government has awarded compensation to the family of Bhargav Patni who performed his duty by working as an employee to weigh the grains at the fair price shop for distribution of groceries during the Covid-19 lockdown, contracted the virus while performing his duty and subsequently died. He has been considered a corona warrior by the government. The amount has been transferred to the bank account of his father Arvind Patni through Real-time Gross Settlement (RTGS) of banks.”
The release added that the state government, considering the threat faced by those in the line of duty, has included distributors of essential items, their staff, data entry operators and other helpers in the list of front-line staff, which makes Patni eligible for the compensation.
Interestingly, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), which is conducting death audits of all Covid-19 fatalities, has classified Patni’s death as that due to dengue. Among the 45 recorded deaths of those who tested positive for Covid-19, the VMC has concluded only seven as Covid-19 deaths. Patni’s death is the only entry under the category “due to other illness – dengue”.
When contacted, District Supply Officer SD Goklani said that the department had, suo motu, made the application seeking the financial aid for the family as the fair price shop was registered in the name of Patni’s father and he had assisted his father at the shop. Goklani told The Indian Express, “The recommendation to count him as a corona warrior was made to the Gujarat government based on the report submitted to us by Gotri Covid-19 hospital, run by the Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society (GMERS), where he was treated. The report had confirmed that Bhargav died due to Covid-19, based on which we made the recommendation through the Collector. His father, Arvind Patni, is the registered owner of the fair price shop and Bhargav also worked there. As per the revised decision of the state government to include all the staff at essential fair price grocery distribution shops as front-line staff, we have considered Bhargav as a corona warrior. The government accepted this recommendation.”
Patni’s case may be regarded as Vadodara’s third Covid-19 mortality. The treating doctor at GMERS had in April told this newspaper that Patni had first consulted a local practitioner with symptoms like fever and sore throat. He was admitted at GMERS on April 9 with diarrhoea, fever, sore throat and dry cough. He had also reported low count of platelets and white blood cells, which was suggestive of dengue. One of his three tests for dengue (IGM) had also returned positive. However, his first Covid-19 sample had tested negative on April 10.
After his father tested positive for Covid-19 on April 11, Patni was retested with a “high clinical suspicion that the patient was infected as well”. Patni tested positive on April 12, but his health had already deteriorated and he was put under non-invasive ventilatory support due to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The doctor also said that the patient was obese and had a high Body Mass Index (BMI), which added to the severity of the viral infection.
Along with his father, Patni’s mother, uncle, aunt, cousins and his 85-year-old grandfather had also tested positive and recovered. Patni’s grandfather was the original holder of the license of the fair price shop and had also been the president of the erstwhile Patni Cooperative Bank, as per sources close to the family.
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