A 57-year-old suspected Covid-19 patient’s body remained at his home for 10 hours on Monday as his wife desperately tried to reach out to ambulances, police and BMC to bury his body.
“I am scared. I have never seen such times. Seeing his body like that,” the deceased’s 53-year-old wife wept over phone.
It was by evening when the local police called for 108 ambulance and took his body for cremation at 7 pm. Since it was a suspected Covid-19 case, no Christian burial ground was willing to take the body.
The 57-year-old man first reported breathlessness on May 23. His wife took him to Seven Hills hospital immediately. “The doctors there said they were only admitting Covid-19 positive patients. We had no transportation to go anywhere, so we returned home,” his wife said.
Dr Balkrishna Adsul, in-charge at Seven Hills, said since the hospital is dedicated Covid referral centre, only positive and severely ill patients are admitted. “If we admit a suspected patient, they may catch the infection if they are negative. We always refer them to KEM,” he said.
On Sunday, the 57-year-old felt better so the couple decided to wait for Covid-19 results. By night he again developed high fever, became breathless and had coughing fits. She decided to wait till morning, when she thought she could get an ambulance.
“Today I made him bathe, gave him tea. Since 6.30 am I was trying for an ambulance,” she said. By 9 am, the 57-year-old passed away.
Jolly Antony, a neighbour, said the wife started reaching out to BMC and police but got no assistance. “We were not able to find an ambulance. We kept calling different numbers but got no help from BMC,” Antony said. “I kept looking at his body helplessly. People from my community helped, but when a person is labelled with Covid19, nobody wants to do his burial,” she said.
By 6 pm, a police official reached the area. A private ambulance had reached but the driver refused to handle a suspected Covid-19 patient’s body. The police had to dial the 108 ambulance service to transport the body to Borivali crematorium. The city has over 150 ambulances for Covid-19 patients.
A shortage of ambulance continues to remain a major issue in timely treatment. A Covid-19 test was conducted on him on May 23, while BMC has asked all laboratories to provide result in 24 hours, his result came after 48 hours on Monday night. He had tested positive.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, BMC, said patients must call 1916 for a bed. “Seven Hills is a special centre for Covid-19. Suspected cases cannot be admitted there,” he said.
The deceased’s wife said under the lockdown, people are confused where to go for treatment and how to go, and not having access to transport only makes it worse.
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