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"We begged for the diary kept in his pocket which they didn't give, why so if it's not a COVID death," Abhijit Mitra 

The state government has constituted a board to audit all the COVID-linked death in Assam and decide which is a COVID death and which is not. As informed by the district health department, the board under the chairmanship of director of medical education, Dr. Anup Kumar Barman MBBS, MD (Medicine), DM (Nephro) has adjudged that 70-year-old Janiganj resident, Narayan Mitra did not die because of COVID 19 and therefore is not considered as a COVID death.

Media expert, district health department, Suman Choudhury’s official media statement read, “It is to inform that Lt. Narayan Mitra tested COVID positive. But, his cause of Death is Myasthenia Gravis as declared by the State Level Death Audit Board.”

A google search on Myasthenia gravis (MG) crawls “It is a long-term neuromuscular disease that leads to varying degrees of skeletal muscle weakness. The most commonly affected muscles are those of the eyes, face, and swallowing. It can result in double vision, drooping eyelids, trouble talking, and trouble walking.”

Following the district health department’s announcement on the cause of death, several rumours started spreading especially on social media. Some said Narayan Mitra initially tested negative and when he was re-tested post-death, he was found COVID positive. Some said, reporting Narayan Mitra’s death as COVID death would be a misrepresentation of facts.

Barak Bulletin’s Biswakalyan Purkayastha reached out to Narayan Mitra’s son, Abhijit Mitra who ha rushed his father to SMCH and was there with him throughout. Incidentally, he also tested COVID positive and following which he was admitted to the COVID block.

Here is what he had to say, edited excerpts:

What did the doctors at Silchar Medical College and Hospital tell you about your father’s death?

The doctor told me that my father had a respiration-paralysis and when that coupled with COVID19 infection, the air-circulation got disrupted. Due to that, his heartbeat started dropping significantly and eventually he succumbed.

Was your father under treatment for Myasthenia gravis (MG)?

No, the doctors told us yesterday that he was suffering from Myasthenia gravis (MG) which neither he nor us, did not realise earlier. The doctors also told us that he must have been suffering from Myasthenia gravis (MG) for a while unknowingly and that is why he is having such difficulty in breathing.

There is a rumour doing rounds which states that Mr. Mitra first tested negative and the subsequent test was positive, when did you all get to know about his COVID status?

His samples were collected only once late at night on Wednesday and we were told that we will get the report at 2:00 AM Thursday morning (Wednesday night). But they did not give us any report and in the morning we were told he is no more.

How did you all get to know that Mr. Mitra tested positive for COVID 19?

Baba was declared dead at around 6:05 AM yesterday morning. We were told about his COVID situation at around 12:00 noon. They did not tell us anything officially, instead, we were asked how many of us are there with him as attendants, we all must get our COVID test done immediately. That is when we guessed it for the first time that Baba must have tested COVID positive. When we asked if Baba was COVID positive, the officials at SMCH said, “you can guess it as we are testing all of you”… no official communication came our way.

The administration has declared that Mr. Mitra did not die due to COVID but his cause of death was Myasthenia gravis (MG), your reaction?

It is astonishing! If the cause of death wasn’t COVID then why didn’t the administration let the family members cremate him? Within 20 minutes of his death, the officials in Silchar Medical College and Hospital packed my father’s dead body. Why did they do so if he did not die due to COVID?  We begged the officials for the diary kept in his pocket, they did not give it to us and now they are saying it’s not a COVID death. It is really astonishing. He had rings on his finger, we did not want all that but just the diary. It was very important for me but they did not give it back. Losing that diary will remain as a big regret for me forever. We also requested them to let us see his face once before they take him away, and they did not let us do that either.

Just to clarify, the administration did not say that he wasn’t COVID positive, they declared he did not die because of COVID. When did you get to know that you are COVID positive?

We have not got any official report yet that states he was COVID positive, all the communication so far has been verbal. In my case, they did the rapid test and within half-an-hour, I was told that I am carrying the infection and immediately they transferred me to the COVID block. I have not got an official report either.

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