A family in Kolkata was forced to hire an ice-cream freezer to keep the body of a 71-year-old man who died at home on Monday, hours after being tested for coronavirus but much before results came in.
The body was removed by civic authorities after 48 hours of horror and helplessness.
The family’s two-day nightmare started when doctors refused to issue a death certificate without the COVID-19 test result. Without the death certificate, mortuaries refused to accept the body.
Calls to the health department, civic authorities, the police and politicians did not help.
On Tuesday morning, the desperate family got home an ice-cream freezer to preserve the body, rapidly decomposing in the heat. That evening, the test returned positive for the virus.
The body was finally removed by the civic authorities at 3 pm yesterday, 48 hours after the man death. The building in which the man lived was sanitised 50 hours after he died.
The elderly man had gone to the doctor on Monday for breathing difficulties and was asked to take a coronavirus test. His health worsened when he returned home and he died around 3 pm.
The doctor visited the man’s apartment wearing a PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) suit. But he refused to issue a death certificate and urged the family to contact the health department or the police.
The family went on an endless round of calls.
The police directed the family to the local councillor, who reportedly didn’t respond.
“We even made several calls to the helpline given to us by a person when we called up the health department but nobody responded,” said a family member.
The family then frantically called mortuaries but they refused to help on hearing of the circumstances of the man’s death.
“Calls were not answered. That’s why decided to keep his body at home inside a freezer,” the family member said.
“In fact even after getting the test reports we kept on calling the state health department but there was no response. On Wednesday morning, health department finally called up and set the process in motion for removing the body for last rites,” he said.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation employees finally went to the apartment on Wednesday afternoon and took away the body at 3 pm.