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34-year-old woman succumbs to COVID-19, Bhutan records fourth death

Puran Gurung

In the early hours of January 28, a 34-year-old woman hospitalized at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) for COVID-19 passed away.

This is the fourth death in the country so far with over 4,430 individuals contracting the virus since the detection of the virus since March 5, 2020 in the country.

According to the Ministry of Health, the 34-year-old woman was a chronic kidney patient on dialysis referred from Phuentsholing. The patient succumbed to cardiac complications due to underlying chronic kidney disease probably exacerbated by active COVID-19 infection.

As the country records the fourth death of COVID-19, there are two males and two females while more than 2500 men contracted the virus and more than 1500 women contracted the virus.

With delivery of over 1,400,608 vaccine doses in the country, more than 570,000 individuals have been vaccinated in the country taking the tally to 76.3 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

For the eligible population above the age of 12-year-old, the first dose has been administered to 98.4 percent, second dose to 94.5 percent and there is only 1.6 percent are unvaccinated.  For all ages, the first dose has been administered to 81.1 percent, second dose to 77.8 percent, and 18.9 percent are unvaccinated.

In terms of booster coverage, the priority group vaccination coverage is 99.6 percent and 0.4 percent is unvaccinated. The booster coverage for eligible population above the age of 18-year-old is 56.2 percent.

Starting January 2022, more than 100,000 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 – more than 20,000 individuals were tested in the quarantine and more than 90,000 were tested from the quarantine.

According to the Ministry of Health’s statistics, the highest daily average reported is 127 infections per 100,000 individuals.  

First COVID-19 death:

The country’s first ever case of COVID-19 death was registered on January 7, 2021.

It was a 34-year-old man who was hospitalized at JDWNRH’s COVID-19 ward.

The man was also suffering from chronic liver disease and renal failure, he was confirmed with COVID-19 infection on December 21, 2020. He was simultaneously undergoing haemodialysis for acute kidney failure.

Second COVID-19 death:

The second COVID-19 death was registered on July 15, 2021.

This was an 82-year-old woman from Phuntshopelri, Samtse. She was hospitalized at RIGSS isolation ward in Phuentsholing.

She had multiple medical conditions including congestive cardiac failure, asthma, hypertension and diabetes. She was not vaccinated.

Third COVID-19 death:

The third COVID-19 death was registered on August 10, 2021.

A 67-year-old man from Darjeeling in India succumbed to the virus at the RIGSS isolation ward in Phuentsholing. The Ministry of Health reported that the man had a pre-existing condition.

He was admitted to the isolation ward on July 24, 2021. He had underlying medical conditions including hypertension and diabetes. The deceased was also treated for lung tuberculosis in the past. He had just received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in March, 2021.

Patients with COVID-19 infection and underlying medical conditions:

People aged 60 years and over, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness, reports World Health Organization. Additionally, it reports anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age.

Older adults are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. More than 81% of COVID-19 deaths occur in people over age 65. The number of deaths among people over age 65 is 80 times higher than the number of deaths among people aged 18-29.

The risk of severe COVID-19 increases as the number of underlying medical conditions increases in a person.

COVID-19 vaccines (initial doses and boosters) and preventive measures for COVID-19 are important, especially for older individuals or those with multiple or severe health conditions.

Having a weakened immune system can make people more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to be immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. Primary immunodeficiency is caused by genetic defects that can be inherited. Prolonged use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medicines can lead to secondary or acquired immunodeficiency.

People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be protected even if they are fully vaccinated. It is recommended to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.

Current evidence suggests that children with medical complexity, with genetic, neurologic, or metabolic conditions, or with congenital heart disease can be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Similar to adults, children with obesity, diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease, or immunosuppression can also be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

According to a study, presence of comorbidities lead to the COVID-19 patient into a vicious infectious circle of life and are substantially associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The comorbid individuals must adopt the vigilant preventive measure and require scrupulous management.

Globally, as of January 28, 2022, there have been 364,191,494 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,631,457 deaths, reported to World Health Organization. As of January 28, 2022, a total of 9,854,237,363 vaccine doses have been administered.

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