Co-morbidities, Not COVID-19 Behind Death of Italian Tourist: Govt

Italian tourist in Jaipur died of a heart attack after recovering from COVID-19

2 min read
COVID-19 Deaths in India: Italian tourist in Rajasthan, who had recovered from the disease, dies of heart attack.

The health Ministry in a press briefing on 20 March said they were not linking the death of an Italian tourist, who had been declared COVID-19 negative just a few days ago, to the virus.

"The tourist had a history of heart disease, was a chain smoker and had underlying conditions. He was treated for COVID-19 and recovered from the virus. While under treatment for other co-morbidities in a private hospital, the nearly 70 year old man had a heart attack," Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

However doctors FIT spoke with said while the patient may have tested negative for COVID-19, the damage done by the virus could have led to the eventual cardiac event.

"The virus may clear the body, but the virus initiates the release of chemicals that can damage other organs. This is precisely why COVID-19 is so dangerous for heart patients. If you see the trajectory of deaths linked to cardiac disease, it is much higher than any other underlying conditions," Dr Sumit Ray, Critical Care specialist.

The Italian tourist was the first positive case of of COVID-19 in Jaipur. Shortly after, his wife and 14 other Italian tourists of the same travel group tested positive for the disease. The other 14 tourists are being treated for COVID-19 at Gurugram's Medanta hospital.

The man and his wife were declared COVID-19 negative after doctors at the Sawai Man Singh Hospital administered a cocktail of anti-HIV drugs and malaria drugs for the treatment of specific symptoms. They were the first in India to be given these repurposed drugs for COVID-19 treatment.

Earlier, the Indian Council of Medical Research, in a press briefing held in Delhi on 12 March, had warned that it’s best not to draw any conclusions yet as single patient cases are not enough and only a structured study can ascertain the efficacy of HIV drugs.

“We still need to wait for the effect,” he had said.

Heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and other underlying conditions remain the biggest risk factor for COVID-19 patients.

All five deaths in the country have been linked to underlying conditions.

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