The bodies of two COVID-19 victims were found at the ESI hospital mortuary in Rajajinagar in Bengaluru, over 15 months after they had died. The bodies were recovered on Friday, November 26, at the cold storage when workers went there for cleaning. The negligence of the staff and doctors is said to be the reason for the dead bodies remaining at the cold storage without cremation as per protocol.
According to reports, authorities had been planning to cremate the bodies but in one case, the family of the deceased did not show any interest in taking the body for final rites. In the second case, the police were not able to trace the deceased person's whereabouts and family.
The bodies were identified with the help of tags as Durga (40), a resident of Chamarajpet, and Muniraju (35), a resident of KP Agrahara in Bengaluru. Both were admitted to the ESI hospital for COVID-19 treatment in July 2020. However, as they succumbed to the deadly virus, their bodies were shifted to an old mortuary to be handed over to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for cremation. As per COVID-19 protocol, the civic agency was to cremate the dead bodies of the victims as bodies were not given to the families.
The ESI hospital's old mortuary has six cold storages for storing dead bodies. However, during the spike in COVID-19 deaths, it had become difficult for the hospital authorities to keep the dead bodies at the mortuary. The government had constructed a new mortuary, which was inaugurated in December, 2020. As the new mortuary started functioning, these two bodies remained in freezers at the old mortuary due to negligence.
Cleaning staff who went to clean the old mortuary noticed a smell emanating from the freezers and found the two bodies. The Rajajinagar police have taken up the case and tried to track their relatives. Durga's husband has passed away and officials told IANS that her family did not show interest in taking her body. The police were trying to find out the address of Muniraju's family members.
The development has drawn sharp reactions from the public against the ESI hospital staff and doctors for their utter negligence in the handling of dead bodies.
Rajajinagar MLA Suresh Kumar has written to Karnataka Labour Minister Shivram Hebbal seeking a high-level inquiry into the incident. He said that ESI hospital and BBMP are responsible for the negligence. ‚ÄúThis is the definition of inhuman and irresponsible,‚ÄĚ Suresh Kumar, who is the former Primary and Secondary Minister of Karnataka, wrote in his letter, seeking a proper inquiry over the negligence.