Assam Covid-19 patient’s death by suicide in home isolation raises questions

Published on May 19, 2021 10:32 AM IST

Locals in Silchar town are questioning the administration’s decision to allow the victim to stay in home isolation despite his age and lack of mandatory space.

The victim’s sister said her brother was depressed about the restrictions imposed in Assam to contain Covid infection. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The victim’s sister said her brother was depressed about the restrictions imposed in Assam to contain Covid infection. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha

A 70-year-old Covid-19 positive Assam resident died by suicide at his Silchar home on Tuesday evening during self-isolation. He used to work at a local shop in Rangirkhari area in the town and was living with his 65-years old sister in a single room flat. His death has led to people questioning the district administration’s decision to allow the senior citizen to recover at home against the Covid-19 guidelines.

The locals said they learnt about the incident around 4:45pm when the victim’s sister cried out for help. “When we went closer to the house, we saw she was crying and saying that her brother had died by suicide. He was a Covid positive person, so we could not help the family. We immediately informed the police and the health department,” said a neighbour.

The victim’s sister said her brother was depressed about the restrictions imposed in the state to contain the infection as it had impacted the family’s income. “He had tested positive for Covid-19 last Friday and since then we have been in home isolation. Today at around 4:30 pm, I went to the washroom and when I stepped out, I saw him hanging. I don’t know why he took such a step and left me alone in this situation,” she said.

She said she understood why her neighbours were reluctant to help. “It was not safe for anybody to come closer to a Covid-infected body.”

Following his death, locals are questioning the administration’s decision to allow him to stay in home isolation despite his age and lack of mandatory space for the purpose. “Both of them were aged and ailing. At a time when the government has said a Covid positive person aged above 50 cannot stay at home, on what grounds did the local administration grant permission for home isolation?” asked Uttam Roy, a neighbour.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sharma recently instructed deputy commissioners of all districts in the state to monitor the health of senior citizens in their jurisdictions. According to Covid-19 treatment guidelines, home isolation can only be granted to persons with adequate resources at home, however, the deceased was living in a one room kitchen unit with no separate toilets. It has one small access and an iron staircase.

Officer in charge of Silchar Sadar police station Ditumoni Goswami said the body had been sent to Silchar Medical College and hospitals for post-mortem.

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