Guwahati, Mar 31, 2020: A doctor at a private hospital in Assam’s Guwahati died of a heart attack on Saturday, after he allegedly consumed anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which is being used for the treatment of coronavirus patients. Sources say the doctor, identified as 44-year-old Utpaljit Barman, a senior anaesthetist, had consumed the drug of his own accord as a precaution against COVID-19 as to NDTV.
It is not confirmed as of now if the drug triggered the heart-attack, but, sources say, he had written a WhatsApp text to his colleague about feeling uneasy after taking the medicine.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, the top government medical body, has recommended the drug for doctors, health workers and family members exposed to the COVID-19 patients. Dr Barman, however, was not part of the fight against the disease as there is no coronavirus patient in Assam yet.
The ICMR has also warned that the drug should not be taken as self-medication to prevent or cure COVID-19.
As the overall number of COVID-19 cases in the country crossed 1,200 late Monday evening, there are now only six states that have yet to record a single positive case.
One of these is Assam, where, widespread confusion over the spread of the virus and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 21-day "total lockdown" notwithstanding, the state government responded swiftly in the initial days and has prepared extensively since for an outbreak within its borders.
"With the lockdown, our focus has been on tests and preparation; these are two vital factors recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Though we don’t have a positive case, we are focusing on screening, testing and surveillance," Samir Sinha, the state’s Health Secretary, told NDTV on Sunday.
Chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine was used to treat coronavirus patients in China.