A widely shared video of Puducherry government officials dumping a body of a coronavirus patient from Chennai into a pit triggered outrage on Saturday, reported The Hindu.
The 45-year-old man reached the Union Territory on Wednesday to meet his wife. The following day, he complained of chest pain and was admitted to the Indira Gandhi Government Hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead. A doctor at the facility confirmed that the man later tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The video doing the rounds on social media purportedly shows the frontline workers, wearing personal protective equipment, taking the body in a stretcher and then throwing it into the pit dug up for the burial. One of the men in the video is also heard saying that they have “thrown the body”, according to NDTV.
The incident triggered outrage due to the mishandling of the patient’s body and for not following rules on a proper burial. The patient appeared to have been wrapped in a cloth instead of a body bag as mandated, exposing the risk of infection among those burying the body.
After widespread criticism, Puducherry Health Director Dr S Mohan Kumar said that the episode was a mishap. “As per Health Department norms, Revenue Department officials were burying the body, when it slipped from hands of [an] employee and rolled into abyss. Inquiry initiated,” he said.
District Collector Dr T Arun also said an investigation is underway. “I’ve issued a memo to the concerned department,” he told NDTV. “It’s very unfortunate. I am enquiring into the issue. Have properly briefed them.” Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi said showcause notices were being sent to those involved in the incident.
The coronavirus outbreak has changed how final rites are done in the country as many fear the spread of the infection. On April 19, a mob in Chennai had attacked a group, including doctors, during the burial of a neurosurgeon who had tested positive for Covid-19.
Health officials and police officers in Chennai were in a fix on April 13 when residents in Ambattur, ignoring prohibitory orders, protested the cremation of a doctor, who died at a private hospital. On April 8, a family in Amritsar, Punjab, refused to perform the last rites of a Covid-19 patient, fearing that they may contract the disease.