KOLKATA: With the test reports of a COVID-19 suspect first emerging positive five days ago, then turning negative the next day before again being stated as positive a day before he died on Tuesday, the family members of the deceased are accusing the West Bengal health department of gross negligence.
All of them are now scared that they too have been infected because the man was discharged by a state-run hospital designated for COVID-19 patients on the basis of the "negative" report and he spent more than 24 hours with his family members before he was re-admitted to the same hospital.
The resident of Amherst Street in north Kolkata was suffering from fever since April 18 and he was taken to the fever clinic of a private healthcare unit after four days.
"The doctors at the clinic suggested we take my father to MR Bangur Hospital which has been designated to treat coronavirus patients. He was admitted there. The positive-negative game started on April 25," said the elder son of the deceased.
He said a health department official called him that day and said his father had tested positive for COVID-19.
"He instructed us to quarantine ourselves at home. We followed the instructions. Next day, I received a call from the authorities of the hospital MR Bangur where my father was admitted. I was told that my father’s test report came negative and he would be discharged," he said.
After his father was released, "I brought him home. Since, the hospital authorities said my father tested negative and released him, we did not follow the home quarantine norms. But I again received a call from the headquarters of the health department on Monday and was told that the hospital authorities had released my father by mistake and his test report was positive. He also asked me to admit my father to the same hospital immediately. I admitted him and he died there on Tuesday," the son said.
The man said he, his wife and two children had spent more than 24 hours with his coronavirus-infected father.
"It was only because of the callousness on the part of the health department. If me, my wife and children test positive for COVID-19 and meet the same fate like my father, who will be held responsible?" asked the son.
According to sources in the state health department, an inquiry has been initiated to find out how the lapse occurred.