Kerala man tests negative for coronavirus, dies of pneumonia the next day

A 36-year-old man, who returned to Kerala’s Cochin from Malaysia with symptoms of flu and breathlessness, died on Saturday, a day after he tested negative for the deadly coronavirus, doctors said.

The man had landed at the international airport in Cochin on Thursday night and was rushed to the isolation ward at the Government Medical College Hospital. He had been working in Malaysia for the last three years.

According to doctors, the man died of pneumonia and chest congestion as they were waiting for the test result of his second sample from a laboratory.

“In the preliminary investigation, we found he developed acute pneumonia and respiratory distress syndrome. We also understood that he was diabetic. Blood sugar can flare up when there is an acute infection,” said Dr Ganesh Mohanan, a senior doctor of the Government Medical College Hospital.

“We suspect he died of pneumonia and diabetic ketoacidosis wherein the body cannot produce insulin,” Dr Mohanan said.

His samples had tested negative at the Virology Institute in Alappuzha for H1NI and COVID-19. His second sample was resent to ensure he was not infected by coronavirus, doctors said.

His admission at the hospital had triggered panic. Ernakulam district collector S Suhas had called an emergency meeting on Friday after he was admitted to the isolation ward. He had also visited the isolation ward and took stock of the situation.

All the three 2019-COVID cases in India reported so far were among students from Kerala who returned from China’s Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.

After the third case was reported, the state declared a “medical calamity” last month and put restrictions on large gatherings and excursions. It had pressed the emergency button on February 3 after the third patient was detected in Kasaragod in north Kerala.

Kerala later withdrew the “calamity” warning after it successfully restricted the virus to the three students.

Having learnt a lesson from the Nipah outbreak two years ago, the state was in battle mode since the first case cropped up on January 30 enhancing surveillance and isolation mechanisms well.

All three students were later discharged from the hospital.

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