A video shot inside a ward at the municipality-run Sion hospital in Mumbai shows bodies wrapped in black plastic bags lying next to patients who are being treated for the coronavirus. The video was widely shared on social media on Wednesday.
“The bodies were there just for a short time – 15 or 30 minutes,” Dr Daksha Shah, the spokesperson for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation health department, told Scroll.in. “The video must have been taken at that time. There is always a transit period before bodies are moved and they were immediately afterwards.”
The BMC said it has set up a committee to investigate the video, ANI reported. The civic body added that the committee will submit its report in next 24 hours.
Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Nitesh Rane, who posted the video on Twitter, accused the municipal corporation of not paying adequate attention to the safety of patients, PTI reported. “The Sion hospital has shown utmost negligence by letting Covid-19 patients sleep among the bodies of those who died of the same disease,” he said. “The BMC boasts of being the richest civic body but pays no attention towards the safety of patients.”
He aid that the hospital has a large numbers of patients from Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums. “Is this how we treat our working class?” he asked. “Such carelessness of the medical staff and the Sion hospital could result in further spread of coronavirus infection.”
However, Sion Hospital Dean Pramod Ingale said the relatives of those who died of the coronavirus were reluctant to take back the bodies. “That is the reason why the bodies were kept there unattended,” he told PTI. “We have now removed the bodies and are probing the matter.”
Ingale said the bodies had not been not shifted to a mortuary because it has only 15 slots, 11 of which were already filled. “If we shift all the bodies to the mortuary, it will be a problem for bodies of those who died of causes other than Covid-19,” he said
Last month, Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta issued an order directing that bodies of coronavirus patients should be shifted out of the wards within 30 minutes of death and disposed of within 12 hours.
So far, Maharashtra has 16,758 coronavirus cases – more than any other state in India. Of these, Mumbai alone accounts for over 10,000 cases.