All 5 who died of COVID-19 in Bhopal were gas tragedy victims

All 5 who died of COVID-19 in Bhopal were gas tragedy victims
Bhopal, Apr 15 () All five persons who died due tocoronavirus in Bhopal were victims of the 1984 gas tragedy inthe Madhya Pradesh capital, an official said on Wednesday.

On March 21, some organisations working for thesurvivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy had written to theauthorities concerned, saying such people were five times morevulnerable to the coronavirus infection.

"All the five persons who died after contractingCOVID-19 here were victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy," theofficial said.

A hospital in the city dedicated for the treatment ofgas mishap survivors has been turned into a facility forcoronavirus patients, causing hardship to these people, RachnaDhingra, member of the NGO Bhopal Group for Information andAction, told .
The first coronavirus victim in Bhopal, a 55-year-oldman, died at a hospital on April 5 due to negligence ofauthorities, she alleged.

Another 80-year-old gas tragedy victim, who was aretired employee of the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited(BHEL), was also not given due medical care. He died on April8 and his sample came out positive for coronavirus on April11, Dhingra said.

Besides, a 40-year-old gas tragedy victim, who wassuffering from oral cancer for more than a year, died on April12 and his sample test report later came out positive forcoronavirus, she said.

Another 52-year-old gas mishap survivor, who sufferedfrom a permanent injury, had history of tuberculosis andcould not get prompt care for his respiratory problems.

He recently tested positive for coronavirus and diedon his way to the COVID-19 ward at Hamidia hospital, she said.Also, a 75-year-old senior journalist, who survivedthe gas tragedy, died on April 11 and his sample test reportcame out positive for coronairus on Tuesday, she said.

On March 21, some organisations working for thewelfare of gas tragedy survivors wrote to the state andcentral authorities concerned, saying an overwhelming numberof gas victims suffer from respiratory, cardiovascular, kidneyproblems and cancer as a result of exposure to the toxic gasthat leaked at the Union Carbide factory here in 1984.

They claimed that these survivors were at least fivetimes more vulnerable to COVID-19 than other people.

Instead of paying special attention to the needs ofBhopal gas victims, the state government took over the onlysuper-specialityBhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Center(BMHRC)for gasvictims,and turned it into a medical facilityfor COVID-19 patients, Dhingra said.

For the last 22 days, no gas victim is even allowed toavail emergency services there, she said.

In a letter to gas relief hospital's monitoringcommittee chairman, retd Justice V K Agrawal, the NGOs pointedout all these aspects and urged him to re-start the medicalfacility for gas victims considering their vulnerability.

The NGOs have also filed a writ petition in the MadhyaPradesh High Court, demanding that gas victims be provided adedicated medical facility for their treatment, as was thepractice earlier.
Arif Aqueel, the former state minister of Bhopal GasTragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department, also said thatthe decision to close BMHRC for gas victims was not in theinterest of these people, and they should be given treatmentat this facility on priority, especially in the OPD.Asked whether the five persons who died of coronavirushere were gas tragedy victims, Aqueel said he has noinformation about it. MASGK GK

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