HYDERABAD: Instead of Covid-19, growing alarm over the pandemic may have claimed the life of a 22-year-old woman who had given birth to a healthy baby boy just days ago.

Rafiya Begum had become a mother at a hospital in Hyderabad on April 2. She developed severe lung infection on April 6 and was discharged from the private hospital she was admitted in on April 8. The woman and her husband visited at least 10 hospitals, including the nodal Covid-19 facility Gandhi Hospital, but none admitted her. At the end of the day, she passed away.
While Rafiya tested negative for Covid-19 on Friday after swab samples were taken from her lifeless body, her nine-day-old child, husband and relatives were sent to a government quarantine centre at Rajendranagar.

Husband Mohammed Sohail is a bike mechanic from Nagaram near Keesara in the east of Hyderabad. He does not have any travel history. He also has not come in contact with any coronavirus positive patient. But sources in the state health department say the doctors assumed Rafiya had contracted the virus after she came to them with cough and breathlessness.

Her tragic tale began after she was admitted to a private hospital at Rampally crossroads in Nagaram where she delivered a baby boy. After four days, she developed post-operative complications.

Sick woman was made to run from one hospital to another
As she had cough and breathlessness, the doctors asked her family to take her to Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad, a good 20-plus kilometres away, suspecting novel coronavirus infection. Before going to Gandhi Hospital, a CT scan was done at a private hospital, which indicated damage to her lungs, causing heart-related problems. Sohail told TOI, “All the hospitals denied treatment suspecting that Rafiya was Covid-positive and all of them referred us to Gandhi Hospital. But Gandhi authorities said they would take only positive cases,” Sohail said.

He said after the Nagaram private hospital discharged Rafiya at 10 am on April 8, they had gone to Gandhi Hospital four times, Osmania General Hospital twice, King Koti Hospital and seven private hospitals in Secunderabad, Minister’s Road, Hyderguda and Mehdipatnam till 9.30 pm. “Finally, we gatecrashed into OGH when her condition became critical. She breathed her last in OGH within half an hour while undergoing treatment,” Sohail said, crying inconsolably.

The family’s problems did not stop there. Worried that the family might have contracted the coronavirus, doctors at OGH collected their swab samples and sent them to the laboratory. Sohail along with his mother-in law Sultana Begum, mother Akthar Begum and the days-old infant were sent to the NIRD quarantine centre in Rajendranagar. Immediately after sending them to quarantine, health and municipal authorities sanitised the entire area where Sohail resides. Rafiya’s last rites were not allowed to be performed as the doctors waited for the Covid-19 test results.

Official sources confirmed that the test results came on Friday and they were negative. “Police were told to bring Sohail and family members from quarantine to hand over Rafiya’s body to them for performing the last rites,” a senior official of the health department said.

Health department officials, including director of health, were not available for comment.