Nepal’s first COVID-19 victim: Words fail to describe a heartrending experience

9 MIN READ

Nepal’s first COVID-19 victim: Words fail to describe a heartrending experience

The body of the woman who died of coronavirus being taken for cremation at Pashupati Aryaghat.

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KAVRE: A heartrending tale indeed. Gayatri Timilsina, the younger cousin sister of the woman — who died due to coronavirus — last week, narrates her tear-jerking story about the entire episode of how her cousin sister got infected to become Nepal’s first victim.

Here’s how she explained: “Sister and I were like friends. My mother and her mother are sisters. Her mother is younger than my mother. While she chose to become a homemaker, I became a nurse.”

She narrates further: “We tried hard but all in vain. She turned off a shorter life. We are bereaved. As I work in the Banepa-based Shir Memorial Hospital, we took her there.”

As she further said, “Had there been a ventilator in the hospital of Bahrabise and had she got the oxygen supply there, she could have been saved. The RDT test showed coronavirus negative there but when the sample was tested in Dhulikhel and Kathmandu, it came out positive.”

She is of the opinion that the government has failed to provide reliable testing kits at the local levels. It’s painful to note that even the tracing there is not transparent.

“The grief of losing the relatives is further aggravated to see the slackness in tracing the people who came into contact with my sister. We want to see that the contact tracing and the swab tests of all the people are done instantly.”

According to her, among the relatives, they were four who were waiting for the result of the tests at Dhulikhel Hospital’s isolation ward.

“Sister’s 10-year-old elder son and her mother-in-law are in the village. I wish the government would arrange for their PCR test,” she said.

According to her, no health workers have reached at Bahrabise so far. The area is sealed by the local government.

Although the doctor at the Maharajgunj-based Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) had given the date of June 5, she delivered her child one month earlier on May 5. She underwent a labor pain on May 5 and delivered the child normally.

Though delivered prematurely, the child is in normal condition and it weighs 2.6 kg.

The woman, who lost her life due to coronavirus lived in Tokha, Kathmandu. She had been consulting the doctor of TUTH since conception.

Her labor pain began on May 5 and gave birth to the child on May 6. After being discharged form the hospital on May 7, she was directly taken to her home in Sindhupalchowk .

According to Gayatri, all of a sudden she had a high fever and difficulty in breathing.

She was then rushed to the local hospital in Bahrabise. Later she was taken to Dhulikhel Hospital. When she was taken out of the ambulance, she had lost her consciousness.

The medics in the hospital put her in the ventilator, provided cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). But nothing could bring her back to normalcy. Then, the hospital declared her dead.

“They said they could not save her,” she adds.

“We are economically not very sound. Our brother in law (husband of the deceased) was in the Nepal Army. Now he works as a security guard. He is the one who is suffering the most now. “How can he take care of the children?” queries Gayatri.

No body has come forward for any support till now. There has been absolutely no word from the government either.

“She died on Thursday, but we had to wait for hours to get the report. Initially, they said the report will be handed over to them soon. However, they made us wait for hours. We kept on strolling around with the infant in lap and heart full of sorrows.”

“We were neither informed about the report, nor were we asked to stay safe or isolate from others. I wonder how many people walked past us or touched us there. We were in extreme grief, but I don’t remember anyone comforting us.”

Gayatri says had they taken necessary measures to keep the hospital safe, even if the publication of the report would take time, many people could have been spared from the transmission.

“We were not informed until Saturday, the third day after her death,” says Gayatri.

She complains that if a nurse working at Shir Memorial Hospital finds it difficult to get the report, one can imagine, how difficult it will be for a general public.

“I went to the lab to inquire about the delay for the report. A staffer responded that they had a doubt in the result and it has been sent to Teku on Friday. He added that the Ministry of Health and Population would publish the report sent to Teku at 4 PM.”

What should the government do in such a condition, wait for the scheduled press meet or inform the bereaved family on time? Shouldn’t it take precautions against the transmission?

When I warned them to call the media provided they don’t let us know about the report, they asked us to be patient. “Like you, we are also in difficulty,” they said.

However, the Ministry of Health did not publish the report at 4 PM as well. Once the report got published through media, the hospital asked us to join the isolation ward, she said.

Then only they collected our swab and sent the samples for the test. “I don’t know how much time does it take for the report,” she added.

Gayatri says her sister’s report came in 24 hours but due to the indecisiveness of the government, the hospital was not allowed to publish and we were not informed for three days!

It could be because ours was the first death toll case by a coronavirus in the country.

“Had we been informed about the result on time, the transmission risks could have been minimized, does the responsible government put the life of the public in risk, just because its scheduled press meet has not started?” she asks.

Due to the negligence and irresponsibility of the government, the family members were kept in indescribable grief, should not we have been asked to take precautions once they got the report?

Even after they got the report, due to the irresponsibility on the part of the government, they had to wait for the report for three complete days.

“We, along with the newly-born child, had to suffer a lot as we did not get formal notice from the government till late evening on Saturday. Had the media not put pressure, we would not have known about the report till late evening on Saturday” she complains.

At this moment of grief, Gayatri says, the family members are in the position to go home, even if the hospital asked them to go.

“Besides, we have this infant. The health workers of the hospital phone us telling keeping the child warm, how to keep the child warm,” says she.

“We are worried a lot about the child. Although the mother died due to a lack of proper and timely care, we wish the child would not get such fate. We demand the government to take care of such things. We are surviving the bay on lactogen till now,” she adds.

Electric crematorium. (Image for Representation)

She was cremated at Aryaghat in Pashupatinath on Saturday.

Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon, former Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet has promised to arrange for the schooling of the child. Basnet, central committee member of the Nepali Congress, has announced Rs 50,000 as instant relief.

He has announced to hand over the amount once the deceased’s husband returns from isolation.

(Timalsina is a Kavre-based journalist)

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