A few family members of the eight Covid-19 patients who died in the fire at Shrey Hospital, on Thursday morning, expressed their anger over the funeral receipts issued to them stating the latter’s cause of death as “Corona positive.” Meanwhile, as per health officials, the autopsy reports of “six to seven” victims have identified their cause of death as due to burns and suffocation for the remaining. Eight people, five men and three women, under treatment for Covid-19, had died at the hospital’s ICU ward. A few of them had reported signs of improvement and one had tested negative for the viral infection, officials said.
Funeral receipts of father-son duo Navnit Shah and Narendra Shah at the Dudheshwar crematorium, which bear stamps of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s (AMC) birth and death department, state their cause of death as “Corona positive.” Navnit’s brother-in-law, Arvindbhai Shah told this paper, “We will submit a complaint tomorrow (Saturday, at the AMC).”
Shiraj Mansuri, brother of patient Arif Mansuri whose last rites were conducted at Vejalpur burial ground, also stated that the cause of death in the receipt issued by the burial ground has mentioned “Corona positive” as Arif’s cause of death. Additional Medical Officer of Health (MOH) at AMC, Dr Bhavin Joshi told The Indian Express, “We are looking into the reasons and will get to know in a day or two at which end this (stating the cause of death as Covid-19) has been done.”
However, in the case of another patient Lilavati C Shah (72), who was cremated at VS Hospital crematorium, her son Rajubhai said that the cause of death mentioned in the receipt was stated as “fire”.
The bodies of all eight Covid-19 patients were taken to the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital for post mortem.
Head of the Department of Forensics Medicine at BJ Medical College, Dr Kalpesh Shah said, “A partial autopsy was done where only an external examination was conducted. In six to seven patients, it was found that the cause of death was due to burns, while in the case of the remaining, the cause of death was determined as due to suffocation from poisonous gases. This could be as a result of both conditions, wherein the patients’ breathing support was cut off and the build-up of the smoke in the room due to the fire (sic).”
As copies of the funeral receipts went viral on social media, former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela took to Twitter and said, “The government is trying to shirk off its responsibility and trying to cover up (sic).”
While the Union Health Ministry guidelines on dead body management has suggested the preferable avoidance of autopsies in the case of Covid-19 deaths, it has also laid down conditions on how to conduct one – if at all one requires to be performed owing to special circumstances.
AMC Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Om Prakash Machra on Thursday had said, “Even surgeries or caesareans are invasive procedures (and have an equal probability of infecting others as during a post-mortem). But the difference is that surgeries and caesareans are unavoidable.
For Covid-19 positive deceased patients, we do a post-mortem if the relatives demand it.”
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