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Video shows Covid-19 victims’ bodies kept in ward with patients in Mumbai, probe ordered

The video shows Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment in a ward with dead bodies wrapped in black plastic covers lying near them.
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By Rupsa Chakraborty, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAY 08, 2020 05:08 AM IST
A medical professional and security person wearing mask in view of coronavirus pandemic seen inside an isolation ward of NMMC hospital in Navi Mumbai.(PTI File Photo)

A day after a video surfaced showing how bodies of Covid-19 victims at Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital, also known as Sion hospital, were left in a ward for an extended period alongside patients, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has ordered an inquiry into the matter. A committee for the same has been asked to submit its report within 24 hours.

On Wednesday night, MLA Nitish Rane posted the video which claimed that patients at Sion hospital were sharing the ward with dead bodies.

The incident has again highlighted the casual way in which municipal hospitals handle bodies of Covid-19 patients, despite directions for them to be shifted from the ward within 30 minutes of being declared dead.

The video shows Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment in a ward with dead bodies wrapped in black plastic covers lying near them. This is in violation of the rules of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which state that deceased patients should be wrapped in airtight body bags to avoid possible transmission of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

“I have never seen such a horrendous situation [in Mumbai] where patients are made to share beds beside bodies. This causes severe psychological trauma among patients,” said BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, who has filed a complaint with the ICMR.

The hospital said that often patients’ relatives do not come to claim bodies. Sometimes, it takes longer to wrap the body and send it to the morgue.

“Being a non-Covid hospital, we have to attend to both Covid and non-Covid patients. This is a severe workload on us as we are already running at 60% staff strength. It is not always possible to shift a body within 30 minutes. Also, often the family members request us to wait for them before wrapping the body,” said a senior official from the hospital.

Sion hospital dean Pramod Ingale said relatives of those who died of Covid-19 were also reluctant to take the bodies. “We have removed the bodies and will investigate the matter. We have got instructions that the families of the deceased need to claim the bodies within 30 minutes,” he said.

The BMC has also formed a team to investigate the matter and submit a report within 24 hours.

According to a letter issued to the hospital on May 7, the team has been instructed to find the person who shot the video and probe the reason behind the delay in shifting the bodies to the morgue.

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