Coronavirus: Tamil Nadu DMK MLA J Anbazhagan died at a hospital in Chennai this morning
Tamil Nadu politician J Anbazhagan, one of the DMK's most prominent faces in the state, died in Chennai this morning after battling coronavirus for over a week. Anbazhagan, 61, was admitted to hospital on June 2 over "severe acute respiratory distress" and had tested positive for COVID-19 at the time. He was placed on ventilator support a day later when his breathing trouble worsened.
He was fighting acute pneumonia and his condition deteriorated on Monday evening, according to Dr Rela Institute and Medical Centre, where he was being treated.
His cardiac function dropped and a chronic kidney disease also contributed to his critical condition. The MLA had also been on medication for years after a liver transplant.
In a statement, the private hospital said: "The COVID 19 pneumonia rapidly deteriorated early this morning. In spite of full medical support including mechanical ventilation at our COVID facility he succumbed to his illness."
Anbazhagan, a three-time MLA, is the first prominent political leader to die of coronavirus in Tamil Nadu.
Chief Minister E Palaniswami and DMK chief MK Stalin have condoled the politician's death. Mr Stalin announced three-day mourning and said the DMK flag would be at half-mast at all party offices. All party events have also been called off.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor was among those who tweeted condolences. "DMK MLA #JAnbazhagan is no more. He succumbs to #COVID19. He is the first legislator to die in India of the infection. It was his 62nd birthday today. Om Shanti," said Mr Tharoor.
A veteran DMK leader and a good organiser, Anbazhagan was active in the party's community outreach amid the lockdown. He was also known to be close to Mr Stalin, who said: "How will I forget Anbazhagan, who died contracting the virus, dedicating himself for public life. My dear brother Anbazhagan…when will I see you again".
The MLA, a vocal critic of the AIADMK government, was briefly suspended in January after he tore a copy of Governor Barwarilal Purohit's address to the Tamil Nadu assembly and put it on the table of the Speaker.
Tamil Nadu is the second worst-hit state in India with over 34,000 COVID-19 cases and 307 deaths.
The opposition DMK has been targeting the AIADMK government over its coronavirus response and accused the Chief Minister of failing to tackle the crisis effectively.