Sons of deceased COVID-19 positive man booked under Epidemic Diseases Act in Tamil Nadu

Stanley administration claimed that his body was wrapped as per COVID-19 protocol and handed over with the warning that the patient might have had COVID-19. 
For representational purpose. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)
For representational purpose. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

Lalitha RanjanRAMANATHAPURAM: The two sons of the septuagenarian, whose samples were reported as testing positive for COVID-19 two days after his burial at Keelakarai, have been booked by Keelakarai police under various sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Tamil Nadu Public Health Act and Disaster Management Act for "suppression of facts".

The 70-year-old resident of Chennai had travelled to Dubai. On April 2, he was taken to Stanley where he died purportedly of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI). While his samples were taken for COVID-19 testing, his body was released to the family that very day.

Stanley administration claimed that his body was wrapped as per COVID-19 protocol and handed over with the warning that the patient might have had COVID-19.

The man’s sons, however, told Express they had not been told any of this and that the body was just wrapped in green cloth. They also said they had received a transit pass from the Stanley Resident Medical Officer.  The family conducted his funeral as per their customs in their native Keelakarai in Ramanathapuram district, with the body being washed, kept for homage and buried.


Several people attended the funeral including Ramanathapuram MLA and former minister M Manikandan. Health secretary Beela Rajesh on Tuesday said 200 people had been quarantined as a result. After the man’s result came back positive on Sunday, the Directorate of Public Health issued fresh guidelines on handling bodies of SARI patients.

Keelakarai Village Administrative Officer (VAO) Marimuthu lodged a complaint against the sons and Keelakarai police registered a case against them on Monday. According to police sources, the case was booked since “the two brothers acted in a manner that could spread coronavirus infection, despite knowing that their father was a patient of coronavirus infection and despite the prohibitory orders that are in place”.

"The case has been booked for suppression of facts. The duo did not disclose that their father was admitted to the coronavirus ward at Stanley Medical College Hospital and that he was suspected to have COVID-19 at the private hospital in Chennai where the deceased man was taken before he was taken to Stanley Hospital where he died," Ramanathapuram Superintendent of Police V Varun Kumar said.

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However, the elder son told Express that the family had cooperated with the police and the district administration from the start and had nothing to hide or suppress. “As a matter of fact, it was Stanley Hospital that suppressed facts,” he alleged.

"Around 7.15 am on April 2, I took my father, who had fever and fatigue, to the private hospital near our house by foot. Stating that no doctor was available at that time, we were asked to take him to Stanley. They did not mention anything about COVID-19,” the man’s younger son told Express.

“At Stanley, they took an X-ray and he was admitted to the general ward. My father, who was speaking well at the time, asked us to leave saying that he only needed to rest. It was around 11 am that we received a call from the hospital that he died due to breathlessness after being shifted to the ICU when his condition became critical. We are not aware if it was a coronavirus ward as the doctors, who treated my father, were dressed in plain clothes,” he said.

According to the sons, as they had no idea their father might have had COVID-19 they took the body to Keelakarai in an ambulance the same night, with the family following the ambulance in two cars. On reaching Keelakarai in the early hours on Friday, the body was kept at the residence for homage for a few hours, until he was buried around 10.00 am, local jamaat members told The New Indian Express.

The brothers were booked under Sections 188, 269, 270, 278 of Indian Penal Code read with Section 51 (b) of Disaster Management Act, 58(4) and 134 of Tamil Nadu Public Health Act and Section 3 of Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

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