Medical staff and employees at the municipality-run KEM hospital in Mumbai on Tuesday protested against their working conditions after a colleague posted at the coronavirus ward died and his body was kept in the mortuary for two days, The Indian Express reported.

The 45-year-old worker died on May 24 after suffering from high grade fever, loss of taste and body pain. He was allegedly not granted leave or tested even after he started exhibiting symptoms since May 20. He continued to work till May 24, according to his co-workers, but died later on the same day when he was being taken to the hospital.

The staffer’s coronavirus test results are awaited to confirm if he died of the infection, according to NDTV. The death was declared as a suspected Covid-19 death and the body was handed over to the family on Tuesday.

Class III and IV employees of the KEM hospital demanded that the victim’s family should be compensated with a job and financial assistance. Union members staged a protest from 7 am till 12.30 pm at the hospital premises and also urged authorities to provide better working conditions to them. The protestors raised concern over the rising number of infections and said that the bodies of patients are becoming difficult for hospitals to handle.

Several members alleged that they were not granted leave or proper treatment facilities in the hospital. “We are working in poor conditions, and for longer hours,” said Pradeep Narkar, representative of the union. “Ideally we should be quarantined and treated if we have symptoms, but that is not happening.”

KEM hospital dean Dr Hemant Deshmukh held a meeting with the union members and assured that Class III and Class IV workers would be treated in the Mahatma Gandhi hospital if they fell sick.

Earlier this month, a video of bodies wrapped in blue bags lying next to Covid-19 patients in the hospital was shared on social media. It came days after a similar video surfaced from a ward in Sion hospital. KEM hospital is located five km away from the Sion hospital in Mumbai.

Maharashtra has over 52,000 coronavirus cases – the highest in India. Mumbai has contributed to almost 61% of Maharashtra’s cases and 60% of its fatalities. The hospitals in the city have been stretched to the limit because of the surge in coronavirus cases and inadequate staff.

On May 23, the Maharashtra government sought 50 specialist doctors and 100 nurses from Kerala as even private hospitals were at risk of being overrun in the state. However, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government denied any shortage of both doctors and nurses in coronavirus-designated hospitals in Maharashtra. Several hospitals in Mumbai such as Nanavati, Lilavati, Breach Candy, and Fortis have their intensive care unit beds fully occupied as the city is on the verge of an unprecedented health crisis.

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