Hapur: Covid victim’s body cremated after lying in morgue for over 2 months

The body of a Covid-19 victim from Basti district was cremated in Hapur on Thursday after being preserved in a morgue for two-and-a-half months while doctors reportedly looked for his kin. The 37-year-old man’s body was cremated in the presence of his family, an official said on Friday.

While the Hapur district administration said Naresh Kumar’s kin left him in Meerut Medical College, where he had been shifted from the Hapur Community Health Centre (CHC), his wife Guddi claimed she went home to arrange for the Rs 15,000 that doctors had asked her to deposit. The woman claimed that the doctors had informed her of her husband’s death and told her that the body would be cremated. Guddi said the family did not return to Meerut after failing to arrange the money.

“Doctors at the Meerut hospital asked us to arrange Rs 15,000 for treatment. I returned home to arrange the money but failed in my attempt. The next day, the doctors informed me about the death and said they would conduct the final rites. I was not aware that my husband’s body was preserved. After getting to know about it from a policeman, I came to Hapur to perform the final rites,” Guddi told reporters.

Hapur CHC Superintendent Dr Dinesh Khatri said Kumar, a daily wage earner, had been admitted to the facility on April 13 with a high fever and a low oxygen level. According to him, the antigen test returned negative.

“Since his condition was not good, the doctor on duty referred Naresh to Medical College, Meerut. Naresh was sent to Meerut in an ambulance,” said Dr Khatri.

An RT-PCR test was conducted in the Meerut hospital. “On coming to know the next day that Naresh has tested positive for coronavirus, the victim’s family, including his brother Vijay Kumar, left him in hospital and returned home to Basti. Naresh died the next day, April 15. Doctors and staff of the hospital searched for Naresh’s family but they failed to locate them,” said Dr Khatri.

According to the official, the doctors at the Meerut Medical College called Vijay Kumar’s cellphone but found it switched off. The hospital then contacted the office of the Hapur Chief Medical Officer and informed it about the matter.

“On the instruction of Hapur’s Chief Medical Officer, Naresh’s body was brought to Hapur. After packing it properly, we kept it in a freezer at autopsy. Later, we started searching for Naresh’s family,” said Dr Khatri.

The health official said the authorities found out through different sources that Naresh used to stay in a rented accommodation in Hapur’s New Panna Devi area. With the help of the local police, the labourer’s landlord was contacted. The police got in touch with Naresh’s family Wednesday. Sources said the police had also collected the call details of Vijay Kumar’s cellphone to trace his address.

“The next day, the family arrived, and the body was cremated in their presence. We kept the body covered in three layers in a freezer at an autopsy centre for more than two months because as per rules we cannot dispose of the body of any person before three months whose address is there,” said Dr Khatri.

Apart from his wife, Naresh is survived by two young children. The family is likely to meet the district officials on Saturday to seek monetary help.

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