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45-day-old baby is India’s first infant fatality due to Covid-19, leaves doctors surprised




A doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) places a saliva swab into a test tube for analysis during coronavirus symptom tests (Representational Image) | Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg
A doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) places a saliva swab into a test tube for analysis during coronavirus symptom tests (Representational Image) | Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg

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New Delhi: India reported its youngest death due to Covid-19 Sunday, when a one-and-a-half-month-old baby died at Delhi’s Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, which is attached to the central government-run Lady Hardinge Medical College.

This is the first fatality of an infant due to the novel coronavirus in India, and has left even doctors surprised and calling it a “rare case”.

“It is really heartbreaking. This case is very rare as Covid-19 infections are found to be deadlier in elderly people and not among infants and children,” Dr N.N. Mathur, director, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Kalawati Saran Children Hospital, told ThePrint.

The previous youngest death in India was reported on 8 April, when a 14-month-old boy who tested positive for Covid-19 in Gujarat’s Jamnagar district died of multiple organ failure.

The 45-day-old baby was admitted in the Delhi hospital due to respiratory distress in the ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI)’ ward. “SARI is one of the symptoms to test for Covid-19, and we followed the same protocol. The child was Covid-19 positive,” Mathur said, saying he didn’t want to disclose too many details out of consideration for the grief-stricken family.

But he did add that “all the family members including the parents are now being tested for Covid-19. The contact tracing has begun. Till now, the family is unaware about any contact history with a Covid-19 positive case”.

Also read: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal says lockdown won’t be relaxed just yet, Covid-19 still spreading

Infants and Covid-19

It was earlier thought that the pandemic won’t affect children as severely as the elderly or people suffering from co-morbidities such as heart disease, diabetes or respiratory problems.

The US reported the first known death of an infant due to Covid-19 in Illinois last month, with Governor J.B. Pritzker saying the virus is “rarely fatal” among children.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the age of coronavirus cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years, but newborns, babies and young children have so far seemed to be mostly unaffected; any symptoms in children have only been mild.

A study on 508 patients by the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported no fatalities among children.

However, in the CDC’s latest study on more than 2,500 Covid-19 cases among under-18s, the data suggested that the infants recorded a higher hospitalisation rate than any other child age group. Of 95 infants, 62 percent were hospitalised.

“The study authors recommended that doctors maintain a high index of suspicion for children who could have Covid-19, especially for infants and kids with underlying conditions,” according to Science Alert.

The later study did find, though, that children are less likely to develop coronavirus symptoms than adults. It found that out of the total reported cases in the US, only 1.7 percent were children, compared to their 22 per cent share in the total population.

Also read: Is India’s Covid-19 curve flattening? Cases now double every 10 days, from 3 before lockdown


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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