Hospital gets man's body for virus test, 6 days later says it's missing

Updated: May 18, 2020, 08:00 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

Family appeals to the government for assistance, says no one at NMMC Hospital, Vashi, is taking responsibility

Umar Shaikh died of high fever
Umar Shaikh died of high fever

Umar Shaikh, a 29-year-old resident of Ulwe died of high fever on May 6, but his family does not have the body for the funeral. Naqsibul Shaikh, the deceased's cousin, told mid-day that the body was sent to the municipal hospital in Vashi for COVID-19 test and is now missing.

A native of West Bengal, Umar worked as a contract labourer in Navi Mumbai but was jobless due to the lockdown, so he started selling fruits in his locality. On May 6, he fell sick and passed away on May 9. The local police sent his body to the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) Hospital for the test and the report came back negative a few days later, said Naqsibul, adding that he has been making rounds of the hospital since to retrieve his brother's body.

"He lived alone in a chawl in Ulwe and his family is in West Bengal. His cousin, who lives here, and I were following up with the hospital to perform his last rites. But we learnt that his body went missing and now nobody is ready to take the responsibility," said Tabassum Khan, a family friend of Umar.

"He was having a very tough time without a job during the lockdown. He somehow managed to sell fruits in his area to survive, but fell ill and died within three days," Khan added.

With no information on Umar's body, Naqsibul circulated a video on WhatsApp, seeking the government's assistance. "On May 9, the body was sent to mortuary at NMMC Hospital as the COVID-19 report was awaited. Three days later, I got a call from the hospital asking me to take back the body as Umar did not have COVID-19. But the body is missing from the mortuary and nobody has any answer. We have the video of the body being taken inside the mortuary. I request the government to help us so we can perform his last rites."

He also told mid-day that two bodies were stacked together in racks meant for one.

A senior doctor from NMMC Hospital told mid-day, requesting anonymity, that there were "40 bodies in the mortuary as due to the pandemic, we are not handing over dead bodies to the family without COVID-19 report. We have taken this matter seriously and an enquiry has been ordered, and even an FIR has been filed."

The hospital administration said the COVID-19 report came back negative on May 15 and the family wanted to take his body to West Bengal but an ambulance could not be arranged the same day. They returned the next day with an ambulance, but the body was missing from the mortuary.

15 May
Day Naqsibul was asked to pick up Umar's body

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