A 50-year-old man from Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh killed himself after he suspected that had contracted coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,000 people in China, the epicentre of the outbreak. The man, identified as K Balakrishna, was found hanging from a tree on Tuesday morning.
Balakrishna’s family members said he had fever for the last few days and believed that he had contracted coronavirus. They said Balakrishna took the extreme step to prevent his family members from contracting the virus. FOLLOW LIVE UPDATES HERE
Confirming the incident, health department officials said he had been a diabetic for two-three years and of late had developed a coronavirus phobia.
Balakrishna, who hailed from Seshamnaidu Kandriga village in Chittoor, had visited the Sri Venkateswara Ramnarain Ruia Government General Hospital (SVRRGGH) in Tirupati last week. Doctors there said he was suffering from a viral infection and advised medication.
The deceased’s son, Balamurali, said Balakrishna told family members that he had contracted coronavirus and warned them against coming near him. He also attacked them and locked himself up inside his room, Balamurali said.
“My father kept watching coronavirus-related videos the whole day on Monday, saying he had similar symptoms,” his son said. Seeing his erratic behaviour, Balamurali dialed the toll-free helpline number of the state government. “But they told me there was nothing to worry as he has not visited China recently,” he said.
On Monday night, Balakrishna left the house and bolted the door from outside. Upon realising this, his family members alerted their neighbours and launched a search only to find Balakrishna’s body hanging from a tree on the outskirts of the village.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Thottambedu police station sub-inspector Venkata Subbaiah said, “He had been unwell for a while but doctors did not mention coronavirus or anything. This created fear in his mind and started worrying for his family.” Subbaiah said Balakrishna’s family had not lodged any complaint yet.
Chittoor district medical and health officer (DMHO) Dr M Penchalaiah said during his stay at the hospital Balakrishna got himself checked for urinary tract infection. “His blood and urine tests showed he was fine but the doctor gave him medication for burning micturition,” the doctor told indianexpress.com.
The DMHO reiterated that no cases of novel coronavirus had been reported in Andhra Pradesh till date. A 20-bedded observation ward was being developed in SVRRGG hospital too, he said.
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