West Bengal witnesses its first COVID-19 death

The first death of a Covid-19 patient in Kolkata forced officials to prepare measures for disposal of the body. From hospital authorities to the Municipal Corporation, none were prepared as yet for this stage. Measures now in place, read guidelines below

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Kolkata: A 57-year-old man succumbed to the coronavirus infection at a private hospital in the city on Monday and with his demise the state reported its first Covid-19 death in West Bengal.

The man, who was on ventilator support at the ICCU of the AMRI Hospital, Salt Lake, died following a cardiac arrest and multi-organ failure this afternoon. Hospitalised with fever, cold and cough and breathlessness last week, his condition started deteriorating on Sunday night.

The resident of Dum Dum was detected with the infection on Saturday evening after reports from two testing facilities SSKM and NICED turned positive.

According to sources, the deceased’s family members have also been kept in MR Bangur hospital for isolation. Last month the deceased along with his wife attended a marriage in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh where his son who stays in US came to meet them (according to reports). He returned by the Pune-Howrah Azad Hind Express, early this month.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had learnt about the death during an all-party meeting on coronavirus at the state secretariat Nabanna, instructed the police to ensure that the disease doesn’t spread from the corpse and the last rites should be performed as per the advice of doctors.

“It is a contagious disease and the police should strictly follow the guidelines of the doctors while taking away the body from the hospital till putting it in the pyre,” said Banerjee.

According to hospital sources, initially, they were finding it difficult to find someone to whom they could hand over the body. Ultimately, a declaration from the deceased’s wife, who is admitted in MR Bangur, was taken and the body was carried to Nimtala Ghat.

Meanwhile, the son of the deceased also gave a declaration that due to international travel restrictions he cannot reach the state for the funeral.

The body was kept in the mortuary as per the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare’s COVID-19 guidelines on dead body management, wrapped in double-layer plastic wrap etc. Officials from the Kolkata Police, health department, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and from AMRI accompanied the body to the ghat.

Hospital sources also confirmed that initially, they faced difficulty in finding a hearse but finally the KMC organised one. He also added that the sanitization and hygiene regimen, which was started with the scare of Corona virus will continue. “Our infection control team is sanitizing the hospital and the surfaces every four hours. This has been intensified in the last few weeks,” said the source.

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare guideline for the disposal of COVID-19 effected dead bodies 

*The health worker attending to the dead body should perform hand hygiene, ensure proper use of PPE (water resistant apron, goggles, N95 mask, gloves).

*All tubes, drains and catheters on the dead body should be removed. Any puncture holes or wounds (resulting from removal of catheter, drains, tubes, or otherwise) should be disinfected with 1% hypochlorite and dressed with impermeable material.

*Plug Oral, nasal orifices of the dead body to prevent leakage of body fluids.

*If the family of the patient wishes to view the body at the time of removal from the isolation room or area, they may be allowed to do so with the application of standard precautions.

*Place the dead body in leak-proof plastic body bag. The exterior of the body bag can be decontaminated with 1% hypochlorite. The body bag can be wrapped with a mortuary sheet or sheet provided by the family members.

*For environmental cleaning and disinfection all surfaces of the isolation area (floors, bed, railings, side tables, IV stand, among others) should be wiped with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution; allow a contact time of 30 minutes, and then allowed to air dry.

*Dead bodies should be stored in cold chambers maintained at approximately 4°C.

*After removing the body, the chamber door, handles and floor should be cleaned with sodium hypochlorite 1% solution.

*Embalming of dead body should not be allowed.

*Autopsies should be avoided.

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