The body of a 72-year-old coronavirus patient in Andhra Pradesh was transferred to his home crematorium in an earthmoving machine, causing outcry from state opposition political leaders.
Two officials were suspended after the incident was revealed.
A former municipal employee, who tested positive for COVID-19 in a door-to-door health survey, died at his home in the town of Palasa, in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.
A video shows the body transported from his house to the crematorium in a JCB machine, by officials wearing personal protective equipment. The body can be seen placed in the front part of the machine.
The man had died at home and when neighbors expressed concern that the body was dangerous for the area, his granddaughter, a government volunteer, called the city authorities and the body was moved.
In the Udayapuram region of #Palasa#Srikakulam#AP, body of a 72-year-old man who tested positive for # COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE during a door-to-door investigation and died at home, was transferred to the crematorium in #JCB machine; after the uproar, the municipal commissioner and the health inspector are suspended @GalacticGaming@ndtvindiapic.twitter.com/DbMPCIKRqL
– Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) June 27, 2020
Upon learning of the incident, the office of the chief minister described the management of the incident as “an inhuman act” and said that the protocols necessary to move the victim had not been followed.
Andhra Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy condemned the incident and said that strict measures will be taken against those responsible. “It is inhuman and the protocols have already been clarified on how to deal with these cases,” said the prime minister’s office.
The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered an investigation. Srikakulam district collector J Nivas has ordered the suspension of municipal commissioner of Palasa Nagendra Kumar and health inspector N Rajiv.
The leader of the Telugu Desam Party and the former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu, also condemned the incident and tweeted: “Totally shocked to see the corpses of coronavirus victims wrapped in plastic and transported on JCBs and tractors. They deserve respect and dignity even in death. Shame on the government of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy for this inhuman treatment. “
In a similar incident on June 24 in the same district, a woman who died from COVID-19 was taken to the crematorium on a tractor in the town of Sompeta.
Since the coronavirus epidemic, numerous incidents have been reported in different states of India where the proper procedure was not followed when handling the patients’ bodies.
The total number of coronavirus cases in India has passed the five lakh mark after the country reported its highest peak of over 17,000 cases on Friday. The total number of deaths increased to 15,301 with 407 new deaths.