Ahead of release from jail, Sasikala tests COVID-19 positive

Bengaluru: Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s key aide V.K. Sasikala, who is on the verge of finishing her jail term for corruption, tested Covid positive on Thursday night.

The Victoria Hospital’s second bulletin said that the second RT-PCR test carried out on Thursday confirmed that she is Covid positive.

According to the first bulletin that was released in the evening, she had developed a “severe chest infection and very high sugar levels”.

The imprisoned Tamil Nadu leader was referred from Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital with a diagnosis of type II diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hypothyroidism, urinary tract infection (UTI) and suspected Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI).

The Victoria Hospital said in its bulletin that she had been treated with antibiotics, insulin, heparin and other supportive measures and was admitted.

“She is maintaining oxygen saturation on 10 litres of oxygen through a Non-rebreather mask (NRBM),” the hospital had said.

Earlier, the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital Dean and Director, H. V. Manoj Kumar, had said that Sasikala can be discharged in two or three days.

“She was admitted to our hospital with the complaint of fever, cough, and breathlessness but now she is stable. She was diagnosed with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) but her RT-PCR report has come out negative,” he said.

He had added that Sasikala was referred to the Victoria Hospital for CT scan. “Sasikala’s fever has come down and her oxygen saturation is normal. She was walking around and had her breakfast in the morning. We don’t think there is any problem now. Since she has SARI symptoms, we have referred her for a CT scan,” he said.

The doctor said she was sent to the Victoria Hospital for the CT scan this afternoon. Before that, she had undergone Rapid Antigen and RT-PCR tests which showed her Covid-19 reports negative, Dr Kumar said.

Sasikala’s nephew and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran, who rushed to Bengaluru on learning about her illness, told reporters she was stable.

“I got reliable information that her health is stable. Doctors are looking after her very well. Good care is given. They are monitoring her,” Dhinakaran said.

He added that their lawyer got the information from the prison authorities Wednesday evening.

“He (Lawyer) was told she (Sasikala) was having a fever for a couple of days. The authorities had taken her to the healthcare centre inside the prison and checked her oxygen level and it was below the normal level and hence immediately they shifted her to this hospital. People need not get panicked. Because of the infection, she needs oxygen support,” he said.

Sasikala, lodged at the Parappana Agrahara Prison, was sentenced to four years imprisonment in February 2017 in a disproportionate assets case.

Her illness comes at a time when she is just six days away from her release from prison on January 27.

The case of Sasikala pertains to the amassment of disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during Jayalalithaa’s tenure as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 1991-1996.

In September 2013, a special court convicted Jayalalithaa to simple imprisonment of four years. She was slapped with a Rs 100-crore fine and forced to step down as the Chief Minister.

Along with her, three co-accused – Sasikala, V. N. Sudhakaran, and J. Ilavarasi were also convicted. They were also fined Rs 10 crore each.

Jayalalithaa had challenged the conviction in the Karnataka High Court, which acquitted her of all charges. However, in 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the special court verdict convicting all four of them. Charges against Jayalalithaa were dropped in view of her death on December 5, 2016.


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