Concern over protocol violation as dead woman tests COVID-19 positive in Thrissur

A native of Arimbur, Valsala was brought to the MCH in an unconscious state after having collapsed at home.

Published: 12th July 2020 06:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2020 02:39 PM   |  A+A-

Police controlling the people who are visiting the shops in the containment zone at Palarivattom area in Kochi. (Photo | Albin Mathew /EPS)

Express News Service

THRISSUR: While a 63-year-old woman -- who died on July 5 -- was confirmed Covid-19 positive, the violation of protocol by the Government Medical College Hospital authorities in Thrissur has raised concerns. 

Despite the woman being on the secondary contact list of a Covid patient, the hospital authorities conducted the TrueNat test when it should have been the standard RT-PCR test. After the test result showed negative, they even conducted the postmortem, which is not required in the case of Covid.

A native of Arimbur, Valsala was brought to the MCH in an unconscious state after having collapsed at home. Her daughter was in the primary contact list of a KSRTC bus conductor at the Guruvayur depot who had tested positive earlier. Valsala’s daughter was in quarantine and didn’t show any Covid symptom. 

Sources in the hospital said, “Though treatment was given to save Valsala’s life after she was admitted at 4.27 pm, she was recorded as brought dead.” 

The postmortem was conducted two days after the death, with the cremation too happening on July 7. To identify the reason for death, the forensic expert had taken samples from the lungs for the RT-PCR test. 

“The protocol says that a TrueNat test should be conducted in case of emergency situations like surgeries and deliveries, or if the person is dead. On a living person, samples should be taken for RT-PCR, which was violated here. Postmortem is not needed in Covid deaths. The procedure has jeopardised the safety of forensic doctors. The body was handed over to the police and then to her relatives. Cremation was also conducted without following the Covid protocol,” said a forensic source with the hospital.

Though the medical board instructed 10 hospital staff, including doctors, to remain in quarantine, the family members and police officers -- who were exposed to the dead person -- were out in society.

Even six days after the death, the authorities are yet to include Valsala’s death in the official list of Covid deaths. As per a source, the RT-PCR test at the National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha confirmed the coronavirus infection on July 8, but the authorities waited for a confirmation from the NIV in Pune, which arrived only on July 10.

MCH principal Dr M A Andrews said the TrueNat test was conducted on the patient as the RT-PCR result takes more time.

“For TrueNat, samples were taken from the throat. For RT-PCR, samples were taken from the lungs. This appears to be a lesson for us as relying on the TrueNat result will not help in the case of this disease,” he said.Valsala suffered from coronary issues, but didn’t show any Covid symptom, her family members said.

District Collector S Shanavas has issued orders making Ward 5 of Arimbur panchayat a containment zone.


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