After viral video of COVID-19 victim’s body taken in earth mover, AP CM orders probe

Officials told TNM that they shifted the body in an earth mover as there were no hearses or ambulances available.
The erring officials were suspended after intervention by the Chief Minister
The erring officials were suspended after intervention by the Chief Minister
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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Friday responded to a shocking incident in which the dead body of a COVID-19 patient in the state was taken for last rites in an earth mover. The Chief Minister ordered action against the officials responsible for the incident.

“The incident in Srikakulam’s Palasa where a dead body of a COVID-19 patient is taken in a JCB is shocking. At a time when we are supposed to show humanity, the acts of a few has hurt us. So that events like these don’t repeat elsewhere, action against the responsible has to be taken,” tweeted the Chief Minister.

On Friday, the 70-year-old man succumbed to COVID-19 in Srikakulam district. The death was reported within the limits of the Palasa-Kasibugga municipality. The locality where the death took place was a containment zone. As per medical protocol, samples were taken from the body for COVID-19 test. The test determined that the deceased was infected with COVID-19. 

After being alerted about the death of a COVID-19 patient, the Municipality’s Sanitary Inspector N Rajeev took the patient’s body to the graveyard in an earth mover. Videos of this incident went viral and sparked outrage against the government’s handling of the crisis. 

According to some reports, Rajeev l did not inform higher officials about the incident. 

However, Palasa-Kasibugga Municipal Commissioner T Nagendra Kumar had told TNM that they did not have a hearse or an ambulance in Palasa to shift the body in a dignified manner to the graveyard. Hence, the Sanitary Inspector used the Municipality’s earth mover.   

“We were told that the body had to be disposed of either by the medical and health department, or the municipality. But none of the workers came forward. Our sanitary inspector took two municipality workers along and went to the patient’s house. But none of the vehicles came forward, not tractors, or private vehicles like taxis or autos, or even ambulances,” Nagendra told TNM on Friday, adding that “a few people even drove away with their vehicles, on being asked to offer their help.”

Nagendra said that the patient’s family had consented to take the body in an earth mover. Following the Chief Minister’s intervention on Friday, Nagendra and the Sanitary Inspector Rajeev were suspended.  

In a similar incident which took place in the same district, the dead body of a 75-year-old woman in Somapeta town was taken to her funeral in a municipal tractor. As officials suspected that the woman had symptoms of coronavirus, the family were kept away and the body was taken to the graveyard in the tractor.

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