Bhopal: All the five persons infected with COVID-19 who died in the state capital were victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Three were suffering from respiratory disorders, which was aggravated by COVID-19 proving fatal for them, while another victim was suffering from oral cancer.
The latest victim was a 73-year-old journalist who died on Tuesday. He, too, belonged to Jehangirabad locality, as did the third and fourth victims.
None of the four were treated at Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), the super-specialty hospital mandated to treat the gas victims by the Supreme Court, which has stopped examining the gas victims for any disease including COVID-19 after being taken over by the State Government as an isolation centre on March 24. Ironically, not a single patient of COVID-19 infection has, so far, been admitted in the hospital.
Nevertheless, the Gas-hit survivors’ associations have already flagged the state and Union Government that “the Gas survivors are more prone to COVID-19 as they already have respiratory and lung diseases, and they need special attention”. Even though they sent letters to the Chief Minister, Prime Minister and Union Health Department, it was all in vain.
“Even after the death of five gas-hit victims due to COVID-19 in Bhopal, the state government and the Health Department hasn’t started screening of gas survivors. All of them tested positive post their deaths,” said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information & Action (BGIA).
Also read: COVID-19: MP Healthcare Workers in Crisis; 2 Dead, 3 New Cases, 36 Under Quarantine
She further said that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-run, BMHRC and Bhopal-based National Institute for Research in Environmental Health (NIREH), has a list of gas victims, who are suffering from diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), kidney ailments, lung infection, cancer and diabetes, which render them highly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus infection.
“They should have reached out to such gas victims and screened them but nobody cared to do that. In fact, BMHRC started turning the gas victims away from the gate using bouncers and NIREH, set up in Bhopal for research on the health of gas victims is behaving as if it has nothing to do with the survivors of Bhopal gas disaster. The state government should launch a drive to screen the critical gas-hit patients with an immediate affect.”
Govt Revokes order, BMHRC open to Gas survivors
After five deaths, the Madhya Pradesh Government on Tuesday, April 14, reversed its earlier order designating Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) into a hospital exclusively for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
The decision was been taken by the district administration after the death of another gas victim.
The fresh state government order says, “BMHRC has been demoted as a COVID-19 treatment ‘health centre’ against the earlier dedicated hospital for treatment of COVID-19 patients.” The order was passed by additional collector Bhopal.
In effect, 5.74 lakh gas victims should now get regular treatment at the hospital. Almost all the in-patients in the 350-bed hospital were sent home earlier in March, when BMHRC was labelled a dedicated Covid-19 hospital.