Update: Timeline of Covid-19 in Bhopal

Doctor on a home visit in Bhopal, photo by Biju Nair

There are approximately 2.5 million people in Bhopal, with an estimated half a million gas survivors. Of those, 350,000 are registered for treatment at local hospitals. As of today, the total death toll in the city stands at 33, more than 20 of whom were survivors of the 1984 gas disaster. Here is the timeline of the arrival of Covid-19 in Bhopal and the actions taken by clinic staff and survivor groups in the city to battle its spread:

January 30th: First coronavirus case reported in India

March 12th: First Covid-19 death reported in India

March 16th: Chingari Children’s clinic closes for all but essential cases

March 17th: Total cases in India pass 150

March 18th: Measures implemented at Sambhavna to prevent spread of coronavirus, including installing public handwashing stations in local communities

March 19th: Sambhavna sets up local volunteer network to educate residents on coronavirus, distribute information leaflets and report and monitor symptoms

March 21st: Survivor groups in Bhopal write letter to Madhya Pradesh state government requesting intervention to safeguard survivors

March 22nd: First coronavirus case confirmed in city of Bhopal

March 23rd: Madhya Pradesh government requisitions Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) for treatment of Covid-19 patients; first survivor patients discharged

March 24th: Remaining survivor patients discharged from BMHRC, including those in ICU

March 24th: Government of India announces 21-day national lockdown

March 24th: First positive case of Covid-19 confirmed in Bhopal

March 25th: First death from Covid-19 in Madhya Pradesh confirmed in Indore

March 26th: Sambhavna and survivor groups setup WhatsApp group for use by local communities to receive news and report symptoms during lockdown

March 28th: First patient discharged from BMHRC passes away at Hamida Hospital after failure of treatment for pre-existing kidney condition

March 30th: Patient Munni Bee and activist Rachna Chingra file petition on behalf of survivors to re-open BMHRC; Bee allowed to remain in BMHRC ICU

Doctor on home visit in Bhopal, photo by Biju Nair

April 2nd: Second patient discharged from BMHRC dies at home from pre-existing condition without access to critical care

April 2nd: Community WhatsApp group passes 50,000 members in first week

April 6th: Third patient prematurely discharged from BMHRC becomes first to die from Covid-19 in Bhopal

April 8th: Petitioner Munni Bee passes away at BMHRC as Indian Supreme Court refers petition to Madhya Pradesh High Court

April 11th: Sambhavna implements 5-step Community Action Plan to safeguard survivors

April 14th: Prime Minister Modi extends lockdown for two weeks to May 3rd

April 17th: Bhopal death count reaches 7; all are gas survivors

April 20th: BMHRC re-opens to gas survivors after Madhya Pradesh government responds to pressure from petition, survivor groups and residents of Bhopal

April 22nd: In response to Munni Bee’s petition testing for Covid-19 begins at BMHRC for gas survivors

April 23rd: Survivor organisations write second letter to Madhya Pradesh government again requesting immediate intervention and detailing steps to prevent further survivor deaths

April 28th: Clinic staff and volunteers carry out a door-to-door census to identify vulnerable individuals – those over 60 or with underlying health conditions

April 29th: Bhopal death count stands at 12, all are gas survivors

April 29th: Bhopal relief efforts by clinic staff and survivors featured in ALNAP report giving advice to humanitarian agencies on responding to Covid-19

Group of community volunteers, photo by Biju Nair

May 1st: Indian Government announces second two-week lockdown extension

May 2nd: Madhya Pradesh Government responds to survivor group’s request for intervention and holds series of meetings to course of action to protect survivors

May 4th: Sambhavna updates Action Plan to co-ordinate with local government efforts

May 6th: Madhya Pradesh Government sets up 21 Health Centres for Covid-19 screening of gas survivors in Bhopal

May 7th: Total confirmed cases in Bhopal climb to 561; total deaths stand at 19, 17 of them gas survivors

May 7th: Deadly leak of styrene gas in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, leaves 11 dead and hundreds hospitalised; Bhopal groups offer advice and support to survivors

May 11th: Total cases in Bhopal reach 743 with 30 deaths; more than 20 are gas survivors

May 12th: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces third extension to lockdown with new rules

May 13th: Total cases in India stand at 74,281 with 2,415 deaths; cases in Madhya Pradesh stand at 3,986 with 225 deaths; cases in Bhopal stand at 786 with 33 deaths

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.