Local residents protest cremation of doctor’s body in Chennai

The orthopaedic, who had been admitted with COVID-19 symptoms at a private hospital, died on Sunday night

Updated - April 13, 2020 05:11 pm IST

Published - April 13, 2020 05:10 pm IST - CHENNAI

 The body had to be kept in a vehicle while the police and other officials persuaded residents who were protesting

The body had to be kept in a vehicle while the police and other officials persuaded residents who were protesting

Health officials and police officers were in a fix in Chennai on Monday after local residents, ignoring prohibitory orders, protested the cremation of a doctor, who died at a private hospital on Sunday night. The doctor, an orthopaedic, was admitted to the hospital with symptoms of COVID-19.

For hours, health workers had kept the body in a vehicle and were persuading the agitators to allow the cremation. The local resisdents, who suspected that the doctor had died of COVID-19, expressed apprehension that the cremation of the body could result in the spread of novel Coronavirus in the area, police sources said.

Word about the impending cremation had spread when health officials wearing Personal Protection Equipment came to the Chennai Corporation Crematorium in Ambattur. Even as the crematorium staff started preparations to cremate the body, a mob gathered in the area demanding the officials not to dispose of the body there.

As the situation was getting out of control, health workers moved the body back into the vehicle and called the police for assistance. Senior officials explained to the agitators that the cremation would not cause any spread of the virus and there was no scientific evidence to panic, the sources said.

“Senior police, Corporation and health officials are working out a strategy to cremate the body as early as possible and also issue clear instructions to ensure that such situations do not recur. In deaths caused due to Coronavirus, the bodies will not be handed over to the family though they can be present at the crematorium. In this case, the doctor belongs to Nellore in Andhra Pradesh,” a senior State official told The Hindu .

The doctor’s condition in the private hospital was critical for over a week and he was declared dead late last night, police sources said and added that steps had been taken to disinfect the Ambattur crematorium soon after the cremation.

It is not clear how the locals defied the prohibitory orders and gathered at the crematorium.

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