COVID-19 in Mumbai: Man who was made to move dead woman's body tests positive

Updated: Jul 07, 2020, 07:13 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar | Mumbai

Days after he was forced to enter a COVID-19 ward to help take away his aunt's body with little protection, nephew infected; BMC says don't know how he got infected so can't blame hospital

Shatabdi hospital
Shatabdi hospital

Even as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) faces allegations of negligence in handling COVID-19 patients, the relative of a woman who died at Kandivli’s Shatabdi hospital on July 2, tested positive days after he was forced to help her son wrap her body without following proper safety measures. After he underwent a swab test on July 4, fearing that he might have contracted the virus, the results came positive the following day.

MID-DAY had reported on July 4 on how some Shatabdi hospital staff made 21-year-old Kunal Utekar wrap his mother’s (Pallavi Utekar) body without following proper safety measures. Kunal had called his 30-year-old cousin to help him lift the body from the ward and put it on a stretcher. They had taken help from two other hospital staffers.

Kunal Utekar and Pallavi Utekar. File pics
Kunal Utekar and Pallavi Utekar. File pics

Fearing that he might have contracted the virus after handling the body, the cousin, a Borivli resident, underwent a swab test on July 4 and the following day the result came positive. He immediately got admitted to one of the civic COVID Care Centres in Borivli.

In a video clip released by Kunal, he speaks about his cousin testing positive for the viral infection. “I am scared of the development. I am also thinking of getting the test done,” he says in the video.

Fifty-year-old Pallavi was admitted to the civic hospital on June 30, and Kunal’s father Pandurang Utekar, 55, was moved to an isolation centre in Borivli. However, on July 2, Pallavi died of the infection. Kunal had then alleged that he was forced to wrap his mother’s body in a plastic bag and wasn’t provided proper safety equipment for it.

Dr Pramod Nagarkar, medical superintendent of Shatabdi hospital, had said that contractual employees did the ‘goof-up’ and also suspended two of them in connection with the case. While Dr Nagarkar was not available for comment, another BMC official said, “There are several instances of family members contracting the virus after one member tests positive. No one can say from where the person has contracted the virus. Hence, blaming the hospital for the spread of the infection is wrong.”

Earlier, taking cognisance of the mid-day report, BJP leader Ashish Shelar had said that the case was of “criminal negligence and apathy towards citizens”. He has also written to BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal expressing his displeasure over the conduct of the civic authorities and ruling Shiv Sena and their insensitiveness towards COVID-19 patients and their relatives.

However, this is not the first time that the BMC is at the receiving end of alleged negligence in handling COVID-19 patients.

In May, the civic body had faced flak over a video of Sion hospital, where bodies wrapped in black plastic sheets were seen lying next to patients.

July 2
Day man was forced to help his cousin take his aunt’s body from Shatabdi hospital

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