Cedric “Burkie” Burke

FLASHBACK:  Cedric “Burkie” Burke speaks to the Express at his Sea Lots home. —Photo: GYASI GONZALES

The records of how Sea Lots resident Cedric “Burkie” Burke was treated while in the care of the State are being reviewed by a medical expert.

Burke is said to have died from Covid-19.

Attorneys Richard Clarke-Wills, Lemuel Murphy and Chelsea John, who represent Burke’s wife Felicia Samuel, yesterday received medical records from the State from the Couva Hospital, and the Port of Spain General Hospital.

They were still awaiting records from Burke’s stay at the Arima Hospital, which are expected to be received by today.

The records, the Express was told, were being reviewed by an expert first, following which they will be handed over to Burke’s relatives for recommendations on if a post-mortem should be performed by an independent pathologist.

Speaking at yesterday’s virtual news conference, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh noted that provisions were already in place for immediate relatives to access the medical records of deceased persons. He said there was nothing preventing that process.

“What the authorities don’t want,” he said, “is for ‘pumpkin vine’ relatives to seek that type of information where they are not authorised to do so.”

On Saturday, the Ministry was sent a pre-action protocol letter by the team of attorneys on behalf of Samuel.

Suspicious cause of death

In the letter sent by Clarke Wills, Burke claimed that he had been “administered something” which made him uneasy.

“I am further instructed that Mr Burke had a conversation with his business partner around 9 a.m. wherein Mr Burke indicated to him that he felt numb as a result of something that was administered to him. The aforementioned raises suspicion as to the cause of death. In the circumstances, our client is not satisfied that the cause of death of her husband is in fact due to Covid-19 and or Covid-19 related complications,” the pre-action protocol read.

Hours after the pre-action protocol letter was sent, the ministry’s legal adviser to the permanent secretary, Mala Kowlessar-Tagallie, noted in a response that once Samuel could prove she is Burke’s next of kin, they would hand over the relevant documents.

“The Ministry of Health (MoH) has no objection to the disclosure to your client, of a copy of the medical records relating to the deceased,” the ministry’s letter read. It also went on to state, “The MoH has no objection to the preservation of the body of the deceased pending your client’s solicitation of expert medical advice/confirmation as to the medical condition of her husband and his cause of death.”

Burke was admitted to the Port of Spain General Hospital on September 9. He was later transferred to the Arima Hospital and then Couva Hospital, where he died on September 11.