Investigation still underway for Covid-19 patient’s death

According to the Health Minister, the inquiry committee did their investigation and the recommendations were presented on April 21 to the professional and ethic subcommittee

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is yet to get recommendation from the professional and ethics committee on the investigation of the death of the fourth Covid-19 patient, a 34-year-old woman from Samtse, who died with underlying kidney disease on January 28 in an isolation hotel in Thimphu.

This was divulged by Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo during the Meet-The-Press session on Friday 6th May 2022.

Meanwhile, the 34-year-old woman was living in a rented house in Phuentsholing prior to being referred to Thimphu. She was brought to Thimphu on January 27 in an ambulance but died early morning the next day. The woman was a renal patient who was on dialysis.

While the ministry stated that the women succumbed to cardiac complications due to underlying kidney disease aggravated by Covid-19 infection, the husband of the deceased said they did not receive help on time.

The husband and the relatives of the deceased also complained that they did not have basic necessities like enough blankets in the room nor did they receive health assistance in the hotel, thus resulting in the death of the patient.

The Health Minister said the ministry, within less than two weeks after the woman’s death, immediately instituted an independent inquiry committee, consisting representatives from various agencies.

The inquiry committee was instituted on February 17.

“However, between this and that, we had a lockdown and the committee could not continue their investigation,” the health minister said.  

According to the minister, the inquiry committee did their investigation and the recommendations were presented on April 21 to the professional and ethic subcommittee, who are now deliberating on it and they will submit the recommendations to the ministry.

Additionally, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government investigated medical management and also verified hotel services and amenities quickly following the terrible tragedy.

“The main grievances, according to the media, were the hotel failing to provide essential facilities. However, when I spoke with the owner, he showed me images of the room and their facilities, and they were just as they should be in a three star hotel standard,” Lyonchhen said.  

Lyonchhen added that the committee’s report will be released shortly, and that neither the health nor the government will be involved in the investigative report. The investigation is done by the Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC), which is an independent authority.

“The council will make the reports public. If someone is at fault, it will be dealt with according to the law. I cannot accept any justification for death from anyone who is at fault if the study points out the shortcomings,” Lyonchhen added.

Meanwhile, the opposition party had also called on the government to provide a full explanation of the incident earlier in February this year. 

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu