Coronavirus | All Bhopal gas leak survivors to be screened for COVID-19

13 of 15 deaths in city were of survivors

Updated - May 03, 2020 02:14 am IST

Published - May 02, 2020 06:56 pm IST - Bhopal

File photo of survivors of Bhopal gas disaster.

File photo of survivors of Bhopal gas disaster.

The Bhopal district administration is going to survey all 1984 gas leak survivors for illnesses and identify high-risk patients in view of their greater vulnerability to COVID-19.

“For the identification of the gas affected people, their survey and the identification of high-risk persons after that and the collection of their samples and subsequent treatment, a team has been constituted to take necessary action,” said an order passed by Bhopal Collector Tarun Kumar Pithode on Saturday.

Besides, the Pulmonary Medicine Centre, one of the six State government-run hospitals for the survivors, has been designated as a care centre for the observation of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients among the survivors.

“Until their sample test results come in, possible cases will be quarantined at the hospital. And subsequently undergo the treatment at different centres depending on the severity of the illness,” said Mr. Pithode.

At the Bhopal Memorial Hospital​ And Research Centre​, the ICMR-run super speciality hospital for the survivors, said Mr. Pithode, the survey had begun.

In the city, which has recorded 526 cases, 13 of the 15 to die of the illness were survivors of leak, which had given them chronic illnesses and weakened their immunity.

The first 12 deceased survivors, most above 55, were taking chronic care for lung, heart and kidney ailments. Four of them died outside hospitals and six within a day of their admission. Only two of them received prolonged treatment at hospitals.

Welcoming the step, Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, said testing should be conducted on a rational basis. “If only symptomatic persons are tested for COVID-19, a whole bunch of those potentially infected and asymptomatic will be left out,” she added.

Ms. Dhingra instead suggested that samples of all the survivors above 60 and suffering from chronic illnesses should be taken for COVID-19 test. “There is no time to spare. If the government is short on resources, it can start by conducting tests for the severely affected areas in the leak.”

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