Picture used for representational purpose only
MUMBAI: The term ‘Covid’ was missing from the death certificate of a 65-year-old Bhandup man who passed away on May 31 after three days of treatment in the Covid ward of Sion Hospital. Taking it to be a ‘natural’ death as mentioned in the certificate, his son carried out the last rites following all rituals, only to be told the next day that his father was Covid-positive and that their house had to be sealed as a containment zone.
In another incident last week, a Vile Parle family faced a similar situation when Cooper Hospital doctors allegedly labelled the death of their 41-year-old Covid-positive relative as ‘natural’ and gave them the body. This funeral was attended by almost 15 people, and the body was not even wrapped. As the death certificate didn’t even mention ‘Covid suspect,’ the family carried out the cremation on a wooden pyre instead of the electrical one.
Though BMC says it is transparent about numbers and that cases are added to the overall tally after they are confirmed and scrutinised, such curious incidents of the terms ‘Covid’ or even ‘Covid suspect’ missing from death certificates have led to BJP’s Kirit Somaiya alleging these were tactics employed to hide deaths. Civic officials admitted that if the deceased’s Covid report is awaited, the term ‘Covid suspect’ should be mentioned in the certificate.
Hospital authorities say they’re investigating lapse
The 65-year-old Bhandup resident, Atmaram More, died on May 31 after suffering from fever and cough for more than a week. His son, Krishna, who was taken to a quarantine centre in Kanjurmarg on Wednesday, said his father was turned away by four hospitals before Sion hospital admitted him on May
28. More had hypertension as an underlying condition, which complicated things for him, the son said. More was admitted to a Covid ward, where swabs were taken during treatment. The report did not arrive till after he passed away at 9am on May 31. “The death certificate said he had died of ‘Type-1 respiratory failure’ and mentioned pneumonia. It did not mention Covid and not even Covid suspect,” the son said.
The son pointed out, “We were surprised when civic authorities arrived at home on June 1 to seal it. We got into a fight with them.” His elderly mother, wife and two teenaged sons were placed under home quarantine and a containment banner was plastered outside their house. The family is yet to receive Atmaram’s Covid positive report. “I have made calls to the hospital and ward office, but we haven’t got the report,” said the son, an electrician. “Thankfully, my father’s body was wrapped in a plastic bag and not many attended his funeral,” he said.
Sion hospital dean Dr Ramesh Bharmal said there was no question of hiding deaths as every positive case or death is investigated by an executive health officer. “All bodies are wrapped and handed over to patients, if they are positive or suspect cases,” he said.
Cooper hospital authorities are investigating the lapse. KEM hospital dean Dr Hemant Deshmukh said once a positive report comes, all such cases are scrutinised and only then labelled as a Covid or non-Covid death by the executive health officer.