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Tamil Nadu: 200 people quarantined after family of deceased coronavirus patient opens bodybag against guidelines and hosts funeral

The Stanley administration claimed that the coronavirus positive patient's body was wrapped as per WHO-recommended protocol and handed over with the warning that the patient might have had COVID-19.

On April 4, the Stanley Hospital in Tamil Nadu came under the scanner after the swab test result of a 70-year-old man who died on April 2 was found positive for the Wuhan Coronavirus. While the family had alleged negligence on part of the hospital, the hospital authorities had denied any wrongdoing on their part. A senior doctor said that the patient’s family was asked to follow protocol.

Now, as per a report in the New Indian Express, the Keelakarai police have booked the two sons of the deceased for “suppression of facts”. They have been booked under various sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Tamil Nadu Public Health Act and Disaster Management Act.

According to the report, while the hospital had given back the body of the deceased in a sealed body bag as per WHO protocol, the sons had disregarded the protocol by opening and taking out the body to wash it and thereafter bury it as per their customs.

Keelakarai Village Administrative Officer (VAO) Marimuthu lodged a complaint against the sons and Keelakarai police registered a case against them on Monday. According to police sources, the case was booked since “the two brothers acted in a manner that could spread coronavirus infection, despite knowing that their father was a patient of coronavirus infection and despite the prohibitory orders that are in place”.

“The case has been booked for suppression of facts. The duo did not disclose that their father was admitted to the coronavirus ward at Stanley Medical College Hospital and that he was suspected to have COVID-19 at the private hospital in Chennai where the deceased man was taken before he was taken to Stanley Hospital where he died,” Ramanathapuram Superintendent of Police V Varun Kumar said.

Earlier, the family members had alleged that the authorities kept them uninformed about the likelihood of the patient dying due to the pandemic. As such, no precautionary measures were taken. They had taken the body of the deceased via an ambulance to Keelakarai in Ramanathapuram on the same night of his death. His body was buried the following day around 10 am.

Several people attended the funeral including Ramanathapuram MLA and former minister M Manikandan. Health secretary Beela Rajesh on Tuesday said 200 people had been quarantined as a result. 

A family member had claimed, “At the hospital, we were neither informed that he was a suspected COVID-19 patient nor that his samples were drawn for testing.

The body was handed over to us wrapped in a green-colored cloth.” When the test results returned positive on Saturday, it was only then that the hospital authorities informed the family.

However, refuting charges of negligence, the Stanley administration claimed that the coronavirus positive patient’s body was wrapped as per COVID-19 protocol and handed over with the warning that the patient might have had COVID-19. Hospital authorities had denied any wrongdoing on their part. A senior doctor said that the patient’s family was asked to follow protocol.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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