Kolkata man dies from coronavirus, kin keep body in freezer for hours as officials fail to respond

Within an hour, Kolkata Municipal Corporation employees reached the apartment and took away the body for cremation.
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

KOLKATA: The body of a septuagenarian coronavirus patient was kept inside a freezer by his family members here for at least 48 hours as "no help" came from the authorities to cremate it.

The 71-year-old man, who suffered from breathing issues, had died on Monday at his home on Raja Rammohan Roy Sarani in the central part of the city, health department sources said on Wednesday.

The doctor he had visited on Monday had asked him to undergo coronavirus tests, which he did.

However, his situation deteriorated after returning home and he died in the afternoon, a family member said.

The doctor, after being informed, visited the man's apartment wearing a PPE.

But 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, he said.

The police directed the family to contact the local councillor.

"But there too we did not receive any help 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.

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 on Tuesday night confirmed COVID-19.

"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 the health department and told them everything," he said.

Within an hour, 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.

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The New Indian Express