An 82-year-old woman, who was missing for eight days from a government-run hospital at Jalgaon in Maharashtra, was found dead inside a toilet of the facility on Wednesday, PTI reported.

The woman, who lived with her daughter-in-law in Bhusawal city, had tested positive for the coronavirus on May 27. She was first admitted to another hospital before she was shifted to the Jalgaon Civil Hospital on June 1.

Akbar Patel, senior inspector at the Zilla Peth police station, told IANS that hospital authorities and the family informed the police that she was untraceable since June 2. “Thereafter, we made full inquiries in Bhusaval, checked all patient registers in the presence of the relatives, scanned CCTV footage etc. and then registered the complaint on June 6,” Patel added.

The elderly woman was discovered after patients in the hospital complained of foul smell from the toilet. “The dysfunctional CCTV cameras posed more difficulties for the police,” an unidentified official of the Jalgaon Civil Hospital told the news agency. “It was due to the foul odour emanating from ward 7 that led to the octogenarian woman patient’s body being traced in one of the toilets. Her body was partially decomposed when recovered.”

This is the second recorded case of a coronavirus patient going missing and later being found dead, creating a stir in the state that has over 94,000 infections – the highest in India. The hospitals in the state have been stretched to the limit because of the surge in coronavirus cases and inadequate staff.

Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya demanded a thorough investigation into such incidents. He also wrote a letter to the health minister. “In the last few days in Mumbai, half a dozen corona patients’ bodies are missing,” Somaiya said. “There should be an inquiry on this.”

BJP leader and former state minister Girish Mahajan, who had earlier served as the Jalgaon district guardian minister, also criticised the incident.

“The incident underscores the poor condition of the hospital and the careless approach of the hospital staff in tracing a missing Covid-19 patient,” he said. “We had raised the issue of the Jalgaon civil hospital’s poor management in some earlier meetings, but it was ignored. Strict action should be taken against senior officials in the hospital to avoid such incidents in future.”

Also read:

  1. In Mumbai, Covid-19 patients are dying as they wait for ambulances and hospital beds
  2. Mumbai claims to have enough Covid-19 beds. So why are hospitals turning patients away?