The photograph of a dead body wrapped in a black bag and lying next to a patient, allegedly inside a hospital ward in Stanley Medical College Hospital in Chennai, went viral on the internet on Tuesday. Many people were outraged about how the patients were allegedly being treated at the hospital.
Following this, a probe was ordered by the hospital authorities and they say that the photograph was most probably taken between the time the body of the COVID-19 patient was wrapped as per the protocol and it was shifted to the mortuary, to be taken for burial.
While it has been alleged online that the body was kept in the ward where several other patients were present for close to eight hours, the probe done by the hospital authorities narrows the time down to two hours.
Speaking to TNM, the chief doctor from Stanley who headed the inspection, explains the timeline of events that took place on Monday. “The patient passed away at 8.00 am on Monday. This being a COVID-19 case, we have norms for disposing of the body. We have to pack it up properly and prepare for shifting it to the mortuary. The duty Assistant Resident Medical Officer (ARMO) will have to sign the shifting form and then we inform the Corporation official,” he says.
According to the doctor, the body was sent to the mortuary at 10.00 am and was then taken to the burial site only around 5.30 pm that day. “The Corporation will have to find the proper place for burial and a time slot has to be allocated for the COVID-19 deep burial. This is usual for any COVID-19 death,” he says.
On the day of the incident, there were about 25 to 30 patients in the ward. However, the doctor claims that the bed on which the deceased’s body was packed and kept was covered with a screen. He further says that the allegations that the packed body was left unattended for about eight hours are not true. “The allegations are false. On our part, it took only two hours and this is normal. If we are not careful about adequate precautions, then we risk spread. My assumption is that between the time the screen was moved and the body was transported to a stretcher, one of the patients in the ward must have taken the photograph,” he says.