Coronavirus in Mumbai: KEM doctors and staff panic after 40-year-old woman dies of COVID-19

Updated: Mar 30, 2020, 10:48 IST | Arita Sarkar, Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Some doctors have alleged that the administration has not taken necessary steps to ensure that the infection doesn't spread; dean of the hospital denies allegations

KEM Hospital does not have an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients. File pic
KEM Hospital does not have an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients. File pic

Mumbai had a seventh casualty of COVID-19 after a 40-year-old woman from the western suburbs died on March 28 at KEM hospital. Since KEM hospital doesn't have an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients, her death left doctors and staff members in a state of panic.

Civic officials said that the woman was admitted at KEM hospital on March 28 and she had a history of hypertension. At the time of admission, the woman had severe respiratory distress and had complained of having chest pain for 3-4 days. She tested positive after her death and was confirmed as a casualty of Coronavirus.

Doctors at KEM said that her death has left the hospital staff anxious about their safety and some doctors alleged the administration has not taken necessary steps to ensure that the infection doesn't spread. One of the doctors said, "The patient was brought to casualty where regular patients come and later taken to the ICU. The doctors who were treating her didn't know that she was a COVID-19 patient. After she tested positive, the hospital didn't carry out disinfection of the area. The hospital didn't have protective equipment and the doctors who were treating her were given HIV protection kits."

He added that her body was kept in the morgue for several hours. "There are five staff members in the morgue. The hospital is not getting any of them tested. This is a highly infectious disease and the hospital administration isn't taking this seriously," the doctor said. KEM doesn't have an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients but it has a laboratory where samples are being tested.

A senior doctor alleged that the hospital administration had been negligent. "In my 20 years of service, I have not seen such lethargy. The senior doctors not only tried to cover up the matter, they asked the interns and doctors in the ward to have a 'good bath' to avoid getting infected." He added that several doctors at the hospital are now unable to meet their own family members since they are worried that they may be carriers.

Civic officials said that the woman is from the western suburbs and her husband is a taxi driver. "We suspect that her husband may have been infected by someone he ferried. We will send him and their 13-year-old son for testing on Monday," said a civic official. He added that the building she lived was sanitised on Sunday and residents have been kept in quarantine.

Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean of KEM hospital denied the allegations. "The patient was kept in isolation in the ICU and didn't come in contact with any other patient at the hospital. Around five doctors who were treating her have been quarantined and will be sent for testing in another 3-4 days," he said.

The woman stayed with six people and all be sent for testing to Kasturba Hospital.

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