More than 200 people, including officials from District Administration, Hill Council Leh, politicians and the health department were placed under home quarantine in Leh due to lapses in adhering to the COVID-19 protocol.
This incident took place after the body of former Union Minister P Namgyal, who tested positive for COVID-19, was being shifted following his death on June 1. The sample tests of both the daughters of the late minister came back positive.
As per reports, the former minister reached Leh from New Delhi on May 28. The minister complained of health complications on June 1 and was rushed to the SNM hospital where he was declared brought dead. However, the authorities failed to adhere to medical protocols and allowed the family to take the body back home even though the results of the deceased were still awaited.
Medical Superintendent, SNM Hospital, Dr. Tsering Samphel said, “COVID-19 sample of the deceased was taken since he came from the red zone. Because he was a suspected case, the body was sanitized and wrapped properly before handing over to the relatives. However, there is a rumour going on that the lapses happened in the part of the hospital which is absolutely absurd. There is no SOP’s regarding not handing over the body to the relatives.”
“I personally ensured all the needed precautionary measures in the hospital. The medical staff who came in contact with the deceased are put under quarantine immediately on the same day followed by which fumigation of ICU and hospital area was carried out”, he added.
He further added that the medical department ensured all the needed precautionary measures as per protocol.
When news of the demise of the minister went viral, people came in large numbers to pay condolences to the family. Those who came to pay homage to the former minister included government officials, politicians and elected representatives. According to reports, 24 doctors and medical staff were out under home quarantine as they had come in close contact with the family members of the deceased.
Questions are being raised on the administration's serious lapses as the incident has put hundreds of people at risk of contacting the deadly virus and also increased the risk of a sudden surge in the number of positive cases in Leh district.
Officials refused to comment when they were approached by the media to comment on the issue.
However, District Magistrate, Leh, Sachin Kumar Vaishya order the constitution of two committees on June 2 to enquire the lapses in the adherence to protocols and alleged irregularities while handling a Covid-19 suspect. The outcomes of the report of the committee are yet to be ascertained.
A similar lapse was also reported earlier in Chuchot Gongma when the body of a deceased who was a COVID-19 suspect was handed over to the family members before the sample reports were out. The family of the deceased went through hardships to perform the last rites of the deceased. Later, the sample result of the suspect came out negative. An enquiry committee was initiated, but the report of the committee has still not been released.
Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the district will go in vain if such serious lapses by the administration continue.