Nellore doctor’s cremation blocked by locals in Chennai
CHENNAI/NELLORE: Cremation of a doctor who died of COVID-19 was stopped on Monday after residents near the Ambattur crematorium in Chennai raised objections. The officials were forced to take away the body due to protests by the locals. None of the family members of the deceased were present since they are also under quarantine. Health officials said the body would be cremated on the outskirts of the city.
According to sources, the 56-year-old ortho surgeon from Andhra Pradesh tested positive at Nellore. He was later shifted to a private hospital. “He contracted the infection from one of his patients, and died on Monday,” a hospital source said. The locals, however, alleged that the hospital staff left the body unattended. “We started protesting after spotting the body in crematorium premises without anyone around. The officials and police soon came and took the body away,” said a local resident.
The hospital sources denied that the staff had left the body unattended. “The workers at the crematorium were scared after seeing our people entering with personal protective equipment (PPE). So, the Health department and corporation officials went to the spot and held talks with the workers there.”
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said, “The doctor died of COVID-19. Since he belongs to Andhra Pradesh, his death will be counted there.
There was some coordination gap between the officials. Later it was sorted out and the body was moved to outskirts of Chennai. We have already issued guidelines how to dispose of bodies to all private hospitals.”
When contacted, Corporation officials said the hospital staff were in the process of preparing the body for cremation when around 40 of the local residents gathered. “We tried to speak to them and make them understand that the cremation is being done as per protocol and won’t pose any risk to their safety but they refused to listen,” said a corporation official.
Not being able to convince the residents, the body was taken back by the hospital staff, the official said.
Meanwhile, people who came in contact with the doctor were coming forward for tests. Health officials said 80 primary contacts of the doctor were identified and shifted to quarantine camps. The doctor had inaugurated a new clinic at Pogathota area in Nellore on March 29. Despite the lockdown, he
invited fellow doctors and political leaders for the function, which was reportedly attended by several people. Sources said he also met many of his invitees before the ceremony, to distribute invitation cards.