Kin keep COVID-19 victim's body in freezer as officials fail to respond
Health workers on Wednesday retrieved the body of a septuagenarian COVID-19 patient from his home in central part of the city after his family members had to keep it in a freezer for over 48 hours as "no help" came from the authorities.
Health workers on Wednesday (July 1) retrieved the body of a septuagenarian COVID-19 patient from his home in central part of the city after his family members had to keep it in a freezer for over 48 hours as “no help” came from the authorities. Besides, the residence of the deceased was also sanitised.
The 71-year-old man suffered from breathing issues and had died on Monday at his home on Raja Rammohan Roy Sarani. He had visited a doctor on Monday and was asked to undergo coronavirus tests, which he did. But after he returned home, his condition deteriorated and he died in the afternoon, a family member said.
The doctor, on being informed, visited the man’s apartment wearing a PPE. However, he refused to issue a death certificate saying that it was a COVID-19 case and advised the family members to contact the Amherst Street police station, under which the area falls, the family member added.
The police directed the family to contact the local councillor. “But we did not receive any help from there too and we were asked to get in touch with the state health department,” he said. “We even made several calls to the helpline given to us by a person when we called up the health department, but nobody responded,” another family member said.
Unable to conduct the last rites, the desperate family members contacted a number of mortuaries but they too refused to keep the body after hearing of the circumstances of the man’s death. Finally, with no help from the authorities, the family members then managed to procure a freezer to preserve the body till the last rites.
“We made several calls to the local councillor and the state health department, but no one helped us. Calls were not answered. That’s why decided to keep his body at home inside a freezer,” the family member said. The test results of the deceased confirmed him COVID-19 on Tuesday night.
“In fact even after getting the test reports we kept on calling the state health department, but there was no response. On Wednesday morning, we got calls from them and told them everything,” he said. Within an hour, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) employees reached the apartment and took away the body for cremation, the family member said.
“His body will be cremated as per the ICMR guidelines for COVID-19 deaths,” a senior KMC official said.
(With inputs from agencies)