A sub-divisional officer posted in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district performed the last rites of a 4-month-old girl from Chawandia village after reluctance from her family members, who suspected the baby was infected with the coronavirus.
After the officer carried the infant’s body, however, the suspicions of the family and other villagers were allayed and they too joined the officer in carrying out the last rites.
According to officials, the family returned to the village from Mumbai earlier this month, and the girl’s father tested Covid-19 positive on May 23. However, the child, who died of diarrhoea, had tested negative for the virus.
“The father of the child had tested positive for Covid-19 on May 23 and was shifted to a hospital in Bhilwara for treatment, while the family was allowed to stay under home isolation after the reports of the girl, her elder sister and her mother were found to be negative,” said Mahipal Singh, SDO, Mandal, who has the additional charge of Kareda, the tehsil under which the village Chawandia comes.
Singh said on Wednesday, the administration came to know that the girl was suffering from diarrhoea. “The infant got affected with diarrhoea and dehydration and she was taken to a hospital on Wednesday evening but by then she had passed away,” he said.
The SDO added that because of a misleading message circulating on social media, the family of the girl and the villagers assumed that she died of Covid-19 and were reluctant to perform her last rites.
“In an adjacent village, a man having the same name as that of the girl’s father tested positive (for the virus), along with his child. This got circulated on WhatsApp and the villagers, along with the infant’s family, thought the message was about her and refused to perform her funeral, fearing that because she had died of Covid-19, they were at the risk of contracting the disease too,” Singh said.
On Thursday morning, Singh decided to perform the last rites of the girl himself.
“After the villagers were not convinced, I picked up the body and went to the local crematorium, where I started digging a hole to bury the body. After seeing me touching the body, the family of the girl and other villagers gradually got convinced and helped me,” said Singh.
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