In a major fiasco, the staff of a government-run hospital in Andhra Pradesh's Kurnool town swapped the corpse of a man who died of COVID-19 with that of a non-COVID patient.
The incident came to light on Tuesday when the relatives of Ram Babu (66) came to the Kurnool Government General Hospital (GGH) to collect his body. To their shock, they found that the body handed over to them is not that of Ram Babu.
The family received another shock to learn that the hospital staff performed the last rites body of Ram Babu, mistaking it for one Ram Reddy, who had died of COVID-19 at the same hospital.
Ram Babu's family members staged a protest at the hospital, demanding that his body be handed over to them. "There is a big difference between Ram Babu and Ram Reddy. How can they make such a blunder?" asked one of the relatives who staged a sit-in in front of the hospital with an empty coffin.
Ram Babu was admitted to the hospital due to ill health on May 7. He died two days later while undergoing treatment. He had tested negative for COVID-19. The man, who died of COVID-19 the same day, belonged to Nandyal town.
The District Collector constituted a three-member committee with the hospital superintendent, medical college principal and district medical and health officer.
The incident caused huge embarrassment to the authorities at a time when a Central team was visiting Kurnool to assess COVID-19 situation. Kurnool is the worst affected district in Andhra Pradesh, accounting for 584 COVID-19 cases out of the state's tally of 2051 cases. It also registered 16 deaths, the highest in the state.
Meanwhile, the majority of the 33 cases of COVID-19 reported on Tuesday had a connection with the Koyambedu market in Chennai. The market has been identified as a major factor in the spread of COVID-19 in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Of the 33 cases announced on Tuesday in Andhra Pradesh, 10 in Chittoor district, nine in Nellore district, and one case in East Godavari have been identified as persons who had recently visited the Koyambedu market in Chennai.