Kashmir Indepth

After being declared dead by hospital authorities and ‘cremation’ by family, COVID patient returns home in West Bengal

In a strange turn of events, a 75-year-old man infected with COVID was brought back home in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district by his family members, a week after they received “his body” from a COVID hospital and cremated it.

The man identified as Shibdas Bandyopadhyay, a resident of Birati, returned home a day before the family members were to perform his Shradh, news agency PTI reported.

On November 11, Bandyopadhyay was admitted to the hospital in Barasat after he tested positive for COVID and two days later his family members were informed of his demise, a health department official told the news agency.

The body was kept in a plastic bag, following COVID protocols, and shown to the family members from a distance, and they said they could not see the face clearly.

“We cremated the body and were prepared to perform the Shradh today. However, we got a call yesterday. Someone told us that my father has recovered and we should arrange for an ambulance to take him home from the hospital,” the report quoted Bandyopadhyay’s son as saying.

“We are shocked and surprised. However, we brought him home. We do not know whom we have cremated,” he said.

On this strange incident, when enquired on whose body was cremated thinking it to that of Bandyopadhyay, the health department official was quoted saying: “another elderly COVID patient, Mohinimohan Mukhopadhyay of Khardah had also died on November 13 and it was he whose last rites were performed”.

The incident came to light on Friday after Mukhopadhyay’s family members were informed that he has been cured of COVID and they reached the hospital to take him home, the report quoted the official saying.

The report quoting health officials said that the state health department constituted a four-member committee to probe the matter.

Quoting an official of the North 24 Parganas district health department, the report said: “If laxity is found on the part of the hospital, we will take strict action. But it appears that the confusion was created by documents of both the parents.”

Meanwhile, the BJP’s West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh claimed that such incidents can only happen in West Bengal.

He accused the state government of conducting less number of tests in a day to keep the coronavirus tally low.

“Our neighbouring states like Bihar, Odisha and UP are testing over one lakh of tests whereas they (the West Bengal government) are keeping it to 45,000 because they want to suppress the fact, the report mentioned.

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