A disturbing video that went viral on Saturday shows the body of an unidentified COVID-19 patient being tossed into a pit by four health workers in Puducherry; the video has triggered massive outrage for the manner in which the burial was handled. Following this incident, Puducherry Collector Arun has reportedly ordered a probe.
The video shows that the body of the deceased was only wrapped in a white cloth as opposed to the stringent measures mandated by the government for burying a novel coronavirus-infected patient. In the video, four health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), two with their hood down, can be seen carrying the manâ€™s covered body on a stretcher towards the dug-out pit.
The body is first dropped down and just rolled into the pit and then the body is seen unravelling out of the cloth and falling inside. As they walk away with the empty stretcher to where the ambulance is parked, one of the people, possibly the person taking the video, says: â€śIt has been thrown inside sir,â€ť to an officer who then gives him a thumbs-up.
A lifeless body of a COVID19 positive man being insensitively thrown into the grave in Puducherry. Dignity denied in death. Collector orders probe. Showcase notice issued. An official shows thumbs up as a worker tells him "body has been thrown". @ndtv pic.twitter.com/G2pzkNPwq2â€” J Sam Daniel Stalin (@jsamdaniel) June 6, 2020
According to reports, the patient has been identified as a man hailing from Chennai who had been stranded along with his wife at her hometown in Villianur Commune in Puducherry. A report in the Times of India states that the man was confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 on Friday and was declared brought dead at Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital and Research Institute in Puducherry. His family allegedly did not wish to participate in his funeral.
The video triggered massive outrage with people questioning why the health workers were not following protocol and why those who succumb to COVID-19 are denied dignity in death.
Director, health and family welfare, Dr S Mohan Kumar has defended the incident and reportedly stated that it was not a deliberate act by the health workers and that such incidents would not take place in the future. A probe has been ordered.
Earlier in April, the death of Dr Simon and the events that took place during his burial in Chennai raised awareness around the stigma and misconceptions associated with COVID-19 deaths. The doctor who succumbed to the viral infection was denied a dignified burial when residents opposed and even attacked those who accompanied his body from burying it in their neighbourhood. The incident drew widespread criticism from across the country.