COVID-19: Bihar woman showing symptoms dies in hospital without being tested

75-year-old woman suffered from asthma, had high fever and cough

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Tuesday 07 April 2020

A senior citizen in Bihar, with symptoms that could be of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), died on April 4, 2020. But her samples were not tested for virus SARS-CoV-2 before or after the death.

The 75-year-old woman, a resident of a village in capital Patna’s Paliganj block, was admitted to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) on April 1.

Doctors who treated her recommended that she undergo the test as she had respiratory issues.

The woman suffered from asthma and had high fever and cough when she was admitted to the hospital.

NR Biswas, the director of IGIMS, admitted that tests to find the virus were not conducted on the woman. The capacity of the lab at IGIMS was limited, since there were several samples from districts across Bihar, he said.

The body of the woman was handed over to her relatives by authorities for cremation, raising concerns over the hospital’s seriousness in dealing with cases of suspected infections.

“Doctors treating her strongly recommended a test for the virus soon after she was admitted in the hospital, but her test was not conducted. It was due to negligence,” said a senior doctor at the hospital, on the condition of anonymity.

The woman’s family demanded a test be conducted even after they were given the body, after which they were asked to leave, claimed Rajeshwar Prasad, a close relative.

“She had symptoms of the virus, but apathy of the hospital was such that no test was conducted, ignoring the recommendation of the doctor who treated her,” Prasad alleged.

There was no concern to test those admitted in the emergency ICU, according to Prasad.

IGIMS is one of the four centres in Bihar with facilities meant for conducting tests for the virus.

The Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRI) was earlier the only centre carrying out tests, until March.

The centres that began testing for the virus were at Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital in Darbhanga and a new facility at Patna Medical College and Hospital, which began testing on April 6.

The state government plans to start similar facilities in Bhagalpur, Purnia and Muzaffarpur districts to increase the number of tests.

IGIMS has the capacity to test 92 samples in a day, according to Manish Mandal, the hospital superintendent.

“We are trying our best to conduct tests but have limitations,” he said.

There were reports of approximately 10 suspected patients dying of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at different hospitals during treatment or when they were in isolation wards, across Bihar in the past one week.

One such person died on April 6 while on his way from Gopalganj district to Patna after his condition deteriorated.

Tests for the virus conducted on eight such cases after their deaths, turned out to be negative. Test results for two of the cases were awaited.

There are 32 cases of the disease in Bihar, with one person who died, as of April 6. The state had tested 3,037 samples until now.

Five patients at Nalanda Medical College Hospital in Patna were released after their tests turned out to be negative.

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