Indian worker found dead at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital was worried after getting Covid-19 infection: Coroner's inquiry

Mr Alagu Periyakarrupan was found lying motionless without a pulse at an outdoor staircase landing on the third floor at KTPH, days after he was admitted for a Covid-19 infection.
Mr Alagu Periyakarrupan was found lying motionless without a pulse at an outdoor staircase landing on the third floor at KTPH, days after he was admitted for a Covid-19 infection.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MADAM A PANJALI, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An Indian national was consumed by anxiety after he was informed that he had contracted the Covid-19 infection.

Yet a doctor from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), where Mr Alagu Periyakarrupan had been warded, told the court on Thursday (Sept 24) that the 46-year-old construction worker was on track to be moved to a community facility.

On April 23, Mr Alagu was found lying motionless without a pulse at an outdoor staircase landing on the third floor at KTPH, just days after he was admitted for a Covid-19 infection.

During an inquiry into his death, the court heard that Mr Alagu, who was admitted to the hospital on April 19, was described by other patients as quiet but who helped nurses distribute food trays during meal times.

Dr Goh Kah Hong, head of the psychiatry department at KTPH as well as chairman of the hospital's committee tasked to review Mr Alagu's death, said: "He mentioned some worries about his financial future as well as worrying about his kids in India... Those were common concerns by patients in similar situations."

Dr Goh said that many migrant workers who are Covid-19 patients have a "conceptual difficulty" in understanding why they are in hospital, even after their diagnosis had been translated to them in their native languages.

The court heard that Mr Alagu had no complications and was on track to be transferred to community facilities.

But at about 5.30am on April 23, he made two video recordings on his phone from the toilet of his ward, saying that he wanted to end his life because he had the coronavirus infection.

He is believed to have then used a metal hook in his possession to pry open one of the window panes by his bed and leapt from the window.

 
 

An autopsy report found that he died from injuries caused by "a fall from height", suffering multiple injuries including a ruptured heart, bleeding into chest cavities, fractured ribs, and pelvis and bleeding over the surface of his brain.

There was no evidence to indicate that his death was caused by pneumonia.

The investigating officer, Inspector Jolene Ng, testified that it could not be ascertained where Mr Alagu got the metal hook, as investigations did not reveal if it came from anywhere in the hospital.

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KTPH has, since the incident, used silicone as an adhesive on all its windows to ensure that it would be more difficult to prise open the catches used to secure the window panes.

In April, the Ministry of Manpower said Mr Alagu had been working in Singapore as a construction worker for the same employer since September 2009. He did not file any complaints against his employer.

Mr Alagu's nephew, Mr Veerappan Meenakshi Sundaram, attended the inquiry on Thursday.

State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said she will deliver her findings on Friday.