Even after managing to fight off the coronavirus, several people in Telangana are being forced to remain at Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, the nodal centre for COVID-19 treatment, after their families are refusing to take them back home.
Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender told reporters that this included a 93-year-old woman who was admitted to the hospital with symptoms.
"We tested her and the results returned negative. When we informed the family, they refused to take her home," Eatala told reporters in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Officials said that the families were not making arrangements for home quarantine and also repeatedly asking for tests which were not feasible, even after the patients tested negative once.
According to authorities, around 50 patients who were deemed to be fit for discharge are being accommodated mainly at Gandhi Hospital, while some were shifted to Nature Cure hospital.
"Even if their own father dies, people are scared to identify and claim dead bodies of COVID-19 patients. They're claiming the body after seeing it from far away. Again that dead body, which either has to be buried or cremated, is being denied a place at burial and cremation grounds. Many bodies are being sent back. What humanity is this?" Eatala asked.
"In such cases, the municipal department finally is taking care of the last rites," he added.
Eatala also urged citizens of the state that the need of the hour was sensitisation and not stigma.
"If in one apartment in a gated community, a family gets coronavirus, should you support them or ostracise them? It is the latter that is happening. They're being socially boycotted. This is not humanity. The members of the community should help them in any way that they can," he said.
Meanwhile, convalescent plasma therapy clinical trials have been taken up at the state-run Gandhi Hospital. Under the experimental procedure, taken up at several hospitals across the country, plasma from the blood of a recovered COVID-19 patient is transfused into infected persons.
A doctor from Gandhi Hospital, however, declined to share how many participants were undergoing the trials.
Meanwhile, the surge in COVID-19 cases in Telangana continued with 920 people testing positive and five succumbing to the virus on Thursday, taking the tally to 11,364 and the death toll to 230, the state government said. A total of 4,688 people have been discharged so far, while 6,446 were under treatment in the state, which has been witnessing a spike in cases in recent days with the government increasing the testing manifold.
Of the fresh cases, as many as 737 were reported from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area, followed by Rangareddy and Medchal districts with 86 and 60 cases respectively, a bulletin said.
According to the bulletin, a total of 3,616 samples were tested on Thursday taking the cumulative figure to 70,934.