Uttar Pradesh Minister Kamal Rani Varun, the only woman cabinet minister in the state, died of COVID-19 at a hospital in Lucknow on Sunday. She was 62.
The Technical Education minister, who tested positive for COVID-19 on July 18 and is the first minister in the state to succumb to the disease, breathed her last at the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPIMS).
She had comorbidities, including diabetes, hypertension and hyperthyroidism, a senior doctor at the hospital said.
Kamal Rani, who is survived by her daughter, was cremated at the Bhairo Ghat crematorium here in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.
"A guard of honour was given as soon as her body reached Bhairo Ghat crematorium," District Magistrate Dr Brahmdeo Ram Tiwari said.
The ambulance carrying her body wrapped in plastic reached the crematorium at 2 pm where family members, Bharatiya Janata Party colleagues and senior police and administration officials waited to pay their respects from a distance.
Kamal Rani, who was the MLA from Ghatampur in Kanpur and had been elected to the Lok Sabha twice, was initially admitted to the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Hospital here. She was later shifted to the SGPIMS.
Condoling the death of the minister, President Ram Nath Kovind said she was well respected for serving people at the grassroots.
'Very sad with the death of Uttar Pradesh government minister Kamal Rani Varun. Her whole life was dedicated to social service. She played an important in strengthening the BJP in the state.
'My condolences with her family and supporters in this hour of grief,' Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet in Hindi.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said Kamal Rani died around 9.30 am.
'She was an experienced and capable leader. She discharged her responsibilities with competence. She was a dedicated public representative, who was always working for the welfare of deprived and oppressed sections of the society,' Adityanath said in his message.
The chief minister cancelled his visit to Ayodhya scheduled for the day, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said.
SGPIMS Director Dr R K Dhiman said in a statement that the minister, who was put on a mechanical ventilator on Saturday, had been suffering from fever, cough and breathlessness.
"She also had comorbidities in the form of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and hypothyroidism. She had bilateral pneumonia at admission and was shifted to ICU on the day of admission itself because of high oxygen requirement," he said.
Detailing the treatment given, he said she later required non-invasive ventilation with high oxygen requirements.
'On evaluation she had all the features of severe disease and she was given Inj. Remdesevir followed by Tocilizumab following which she had transient improvement in her clinical status for few days but again her condition started deteriorating with progressively increasing NIV and oxygen requirements,' the statement said.
She was immediately transfused with convalescent plasma and steroid doses were hiked, it said, adding that expert advice was taken from Delhi AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria and Ritesh Agarwal of the PGIMER, Chandigarh.
"However, she had progressive severe disease unresponsive to maximal medical therapy. She was put on mechanical ventilator on August 1 but she continued to deteriorate... and succumbed to her illness on August 2 morning at 9.30 am," Dhiman said.
Her death comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has crossed 89,000 with more than 1,600 fatalities.
The national flag will be flown at half mast in the state capital, and in the district on the day of the cremation, principal secretary Jitendra Kumar said.
Born on May 3, 1958, Kamal Rani was among the 18 members inducted in the council of ministers headed by Adityanath on August 21, 2019, the first such reshuffle since the BJP government came to power in March 2017.
She was the only woman cabinet minister in the state following Rita Bahuguna Joshi's resignation after getting elected to the Lok Sabha.
Speaker of the state Legislative Assembly Hriday Narayan Dixit and UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya also condoled the minister's death.