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Autopsy finds Covid-19 patient’s lungs ‘hard as a leather ball’

(This story originally appeared inon Oct 23, 2020)BENGALURU: The firstautopsyof aCovid-19 patientin Karnataka has revealed presence of the virus in nasal and throat swab samples even 18 hours after death.

Dr Dinesh Rao of Oxford Medical College, who performed the autopsy, said the lungs of the 62-year-old patient were “hard as a leather ball”, with air sacks ruptured and clots in the blood vessels.

“Autopsy of Covid victims helps in understanding the disease progression,” said Rao, who heads the forensic medicine department. The procedure was completed in an hour and 10 minutes on October 10 and the last of the microscopic evidence came on Wednesday.

Rao took five swab samples from the cadaver’s nose, throat and mouth, lung surface, respiratory passages (trachea, bronchi) and skin on the face and neck. RTPCR tests showed the nose and throat samples were positive for coronavirus. “This means that a Covid patient’s body can be infectious. Most surprisingly, it was negative on the skin.”

The autopsy was conducted with the family’s consent. When the patient died, his family members were either in home isolation or quarantine and could not claim the body. “My findings are unique to the findings seen in autopsy reports from the US and Italy. This could mean the virus strains seen in India are different,” said Rao.

Rao plans to publish his findings in a peer-reviewed journal.

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