The death of an Italian, who had been undergoing treatment for encephalitis in the SCB Medical College and Hospital here for over two weeks, triggered a controversy with allegations flying thick and fast that the 63-year-old tourist was not given proper medical care.

Hospital authorities maintained that the condition of Sebastian Rosario Contiguglia deteriorated suddenly on Thursday evening and he died around 1 a.m. Friday, despite all-out efforts by doctors to save him. His condition turned critical reportedly after he had fallen off his bed in the morning.

Hospital superintendent Ramesh Samantray denied the allegations. “The best possible treatment was provided free of cost.”

Hospital sources said the tourist was admitted on November 26 in a critical condition and was diagnosed with inflammation of the brain. “His condition was improving steadily, but on Thursday evening his blood pressure fell suddenly and he had acute problem breathing for which he was put in the ICU,” Dr. Samantray said.

The Italian’s body was kept in the morgue after a police inquest and post-mortem. “We informed the government, which in turn passed on the message to the Italian consulate in New Delhi,” the superintendent said, adding the consulate had been informed of the tourist’s condition daily.

Sources said Contiguglia had fallen sick while visiting Puri and Konark. He was first admitted to a hospital in Puri district and then shifted to the Cuttack hospital for better treatment.

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