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Chennai: Residents oppose cremation of doctor who died of COVID-19, body taken back to morgue

The doctor, who contracted the infection from one of his patients in Nellore, was shifted to a private hospital in Chennai a week ago.

By: Express Web Desk | Chennai |
Updated: April 14, 2020 9:42:55 pm
Corona, coronavirus, COVID19, Nellore doctor, Corona death, corona Tamil Nadu, Indian Express News, Chennai News, Tamil Nadu news Chennai residents opposed the cremation of doctor who tested positive for COVID_19. (Representative Image)

The body of a 56-year-old Nellore-based doctor, who succumbed to COVID-19 in a private hospital in Vanagaram near Chennai, was not allowed cremation by residents, fearing the spread of coronavirus. His body was taken back to the hospital morgue on Monday afternoon.

The doctor, who contracted the infection from one of his patients in Nellore, was shifted to a private hospital in Chennai a week ago for further treatment. His family members were quarantined in Nellore.

According to sources, minutes after the hospital staff arrived at the Ambattur crematorium, the scared workers asked about the cause of the doctor’s death, and refused to cremate the body claiming they lack protective gear. An argument ensued between the workers and the hospital staff, and soon, people from the surrounding area gathered and protested against the cremation. Even after the police intervened, the public refused to budge.

The staff then tried to bury the body at another crematorium, but faced opposition there too. With no option left, the staff took the body back to the hospital morgue.

State Health Secretary Beela Rajesh on Tuesday said the incident took place because of lack of coordination between the hospital staff and the corporation workers. She added that a family member of the doctor had also tested positive. Claiming this was a sensitive issue, she said the government has given proper guidelines to both government and private hospitals regarding COVID-19 deaths.

Meanwhile, the Nellore Orthopaedic Association (NOA) said reports about the doctor’s foreign visits are false. Expressing their deep condolences, they said, “Unfortunately, sections of social media falsely spoke of his foreign visits. He didn’t go to any foreign country in the past four months. He was one of the senior orthopedic surgeons in Nellore, he might have acquired COVID-19 infection during his regular outpatient care as he was attending emergencies. We salute his efforts in providing health care to patients in difficult times.”

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