Tributes paid after ‘highly regarded’ surgeon Jitendra Rathod dies from coronavirus

Ellena Cruse
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board published a tribute to Jitendra Rathod: PA/ Google Maps

Tributes have poured in for a “highly regarded” surgeon who lost his battle with coronavirus in intensive care.

Associate cardio-thoracic specialist Jitendra Rathod died at the University Hospital of Wales on Monday morning after becoming infected with the Covid-19 strain.

The married father-of-two was described as an "incredibly dedicated surgeon who deeply cared for his patients" by the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

The first minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said Mr Rathod was a “very highly regarded doctor”, while health minister Vaughan Gething said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

On Tuesday, Public Health Wales said there were 291 new cases of Covid-19 , bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 3,790. A further 19 deaths were reported, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 212.

Jitendra Rathod, associate specialist in cardio-thoracic surgery at University Hospital of Wales died from Covid-19 (PA)

"It is with profound sadness that we must inform you that Mr Jitendra Rathod, associate specialist in cardiothoracic surgery at the University Hospital of Wales, has passed away," The Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said in a statement.

"He died early this morning on our general intensive care unit after testing positive for Covid-19.

"Jitu had worked in the department of cardio-thoracic surgery since the mid-1990s and came back to UHW in 2006 after a brief stint abroad.

"He was an incredibly dedicated surgeon who deeply cared for his patients. He was well-liked and greatly respected by one and all.

The board added that his commitment to the speciality was exemplary and he is survived by his wife and two sons.

"We will miss him greatly," it said.

Mr Gething told a press conference in Cardiff that a “small number of healthcare workers” with symptoms or confirmed cases of Covid-19 were in intensive care .

He said Mr Rathod’s death showed that “no matter what your expertise or achievement in a particular field of life, this can directly affect you”.

Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething paid tribute to the surgeon (PA)

“Of course the Prime Minister is in intensive care and I wish him well and hope that he recovers,” Mr Gething said.

“It reiterates why it’s so important for people to follow the rules.

“We have not set up rules to intervene and interrupt the way that people are used to living their day to day lives because we can – we’ve done this because we have to, to save lives.

“And each death, and each human story about that, including this leading cardio-thoracic surgeon, I think reinforces the point and the purpose of what we are doing.”

Mr Gething said the Welsh Government would not be making “individual figures” of healthcare workers in hospital with coronavirus publicly available.

“They’re relatively low numbers now but it’s important, again, to be honest, that we know that a number of our frontline health care workers will have Covid-19 at various points during the pandemic,” he said.

“These are people who may have that from community transmission, or indeed from the work they do, and it reinforces why personal protective equipment re-provision is my number one priority.”

Mr Drakeford told BBC Breakfast: “It just tells us this virus is no respecter of persons, or place, which is why it is so important we all do absolutely everything we can to protect one another from its impact.

More than 15,000 tests have been conducted on over 13,000 people in Wales since testing began on January 29, with negative results in almost 75 per cent of cases.

Wales currently has capacity to carry out 1,100 tests per day but this is expected to rise this week, Mr Gething said.

A drive-through testing site at Cardiff City stadium is expected to be operational on Tuesday and will test up to 200 key workers per day.

Three further testing sites, including one at Rodney Parade stadium in Newport, will be open in the next seven to 10 days.

“People who need a test will be identified by their employer and given a time slot to attend,” Mr Gething said.

The positive cases, by health board area, are: 1160 in Aneurin Bevan, 244 in Betsi Cadwaladr, 943 in Cardiff and Vale, 578 in Cwm Taf, 244 in Hywel Dda, 58 in Powys and 490 in Swansea Bay.

Twenty-nine cases are resident outside Wales, while the location of 44 cases is yet to be confirmed.

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