Bengaluru: The death of a 76-year-old man from Kalaburagi due to Covid-19 has revealed how the State administration was in deep slumber despite alarm bells ringing all across the globe due to the deadly spread of the virus.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and Health Minister B Sriramulu were hauled over the coals in the Assembly and outside on the way the government handled the case in a callous manner.
The patient had arrived in Bengaluru from Covid-affected Saudi Arabia on February 29 with classic symptoms of coronavirus. Instead of taking his swab and sending him to an isolation centre, the medical authorities at the airport allowed the ailing man to travel to his hometown of Kalburgi – a good 430 km away.
The tests for coronavirus were reportedly delayed due to “old age-related complications such as breathing difficulty, asthma and hypertension”, authorities said.
The matter did not end there. The health department failed to track him or isolate him in Kalburgi which has a medical college hospital. He was then allowed to get himself discharged from a private hospital against medical advice and the family took him to Hyderabad in an ambulance on March 9. The very next day, he was brought back to Kalburgi in an ambulance and died on the way.
It was only after his death that his throat swab samples were taken and the case was confirmed on March 11.
What is of deep worry for officials is that the deceased may have exposed many people to the virus – passengers who sat near him in the flight, his family members, car and ambulance drivers and staff and the medical team that attended to him.
“Forty-three people, including his family members and doctors, who had come into contact with him are under home isolation, and are being monitored closely,” a health official said.
But 43 is a highly conservative figure, say doctors in Bengaluru. The couple who took him to Hyderabad are now in an isolation ward in Hassan.
Since the patient travelled to Hyderabad, Telangana has been informed about the positive result, for necessary followup action.
The Opposition in the Assembly flayed Yediyurappa and Sriramulu in the Assembly saying that the government showed utter callousness in the way the case was handled.
A livid Congress said the BJP government was so busy protecting MLAs from Madhya Pradesh who are in a resort in Bengaluru that they allowed a patient to die.
Later, Yediyurappa held an emergency meeting with Sriramulu and senior health officials. After the meeting, the Chief Minister said the virus would be fought on a war-footing. It was a case of too little, too late.