Coronavirus outbreak: After man dies, his family begs for help for 8 hours

Updated: Apr 22, 2020, 17:50 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Neighbours refuse to help thinking Vikhroli man had died of COVID-19; it was only after local politician and local corporator finally step in that arrangements were made for man's cremation

This picture has been used for representational purpose only
This picture has been used for representational purpose only

The body of a 45-year-old man was lying at home for eight whole hours in Vikhroli West on April 18 as neighbours refused to help with the funeral over fears that he had died of COVID-19. The man had been suffering from diabetes and suddenly become breathless and died at home. As neighbours refused to come forward, local leaders had to make several calls to arrange for someone to carry the body to the crematorium.

Santosh Ghogawale, 45, a resident of Ganesh Society, Hanuman Nagar, Park site, Vikhroli West had chronic diabetes. Owing to this he had been homebound for a couple of months. On Saturday, he suddenly became breathless and died.

"Ghogawale lived with his mother, wife and two teenage sons. The family was begging neighbours for help to take him to hospital, but people were too scared to help," said a resident on condition of anonymity. "Finally, news of this reached a local Shiv Sena leader Sunil More, who contacted Rajawadi Hospital," he added.

Santosh-Ghogawale
Santosh Ghogawale's wife and sons had pleaded with neighbours to help. (Right) Ghogawale's son helplessly watches over the body of his father

The hospital allegedly told More to dispose of the body himself as the death had occurred due to natural reasons. "The hospital was not co-operative. They said they would send a hearse and helpers but nobody showed up," said More. "The death had occurred at 2pm but there was no help from BMC till late evening. Cops from Parksite police station finally arrived but they said they would not be able to dispose of the body as they needed a nod from the BMC first," More added.

Then corporator from ward 123 Snehal More requested the medical officer in N ward to look into the matter. The officer issued a letter saying the death was natural and that the BMC could dispose of the body with the help of relatives.

Dr Vidya Thakur, medical superintendent, Rajawadi Hospital, said, "As soon as we got information from N ward that the death had occurred, we sent a hearse. We don't know what happened at the ward level," said.

Snehal More said, "Despite repeated requests, not a single neighbour came to help. Finally, the hearse driver, a helper and us took the body to the crematorium and performed the last rites. Also, we want BMC officials to be quick in resolving such issues. The family was sitting with the corpse for more than eight hours," she added.

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