An Indian worker has died in Saudi Arabia after contracting MERS coronavirus and his family is reluctant to repatriate the remains back home amid fears that they might get infected if they came in contact with the body.
Dasharati Sattaih from Telangana, who was working in Jeddah with a leading maintenance company, contracted the virus and died on June 20 this year, the Arab News reported.
The family was informed of Sattaih’s death but was also given misleading information about the virus by relatives in India. They reportedly warned them to be cautious as they could be infected with the disease if they touched the body, the paper said, citing its sources.
The employer is cooperating to repatriate the body to India but the family has refused to complete the formalities. This has led to the body lying unclaimed in a morgue, it said.
Repatriation or burial of an expat worker in the Kingdom can be a complicated process which can only be eased with the cooperation of the kin.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness. The people suffering from the infection develop severe acute respiratory illness. They have fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
The WHO has recorded 837 confirmed MERS infections with at least 291 deaths. Most cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia.
In another incident, an Indian from Punjab, Akrim Singh, died after a prolonged illness in Jeddah.
The documentation for repatriation of the body was almost complete but suspicions about Singh being infected with the MERS virus caused a delay, the paper said.
An investigation, however, ruled out MERS being the cause of the death.
Sukhbir Singh, a friend of the deceased said, “Even if my friend had died of MERS, I would have taken his body back home without any fear of contracting the virus.”
The body was finally repatriated home.
Earlier, there were similar reports involving a Filipino nurse who had died of the MERS virus and whose family said that it was only safe to come in contact with the body after it had remained frozen for up to two months.