A doctor in Telangana had to drive a tractor carrying the body of a COVID-19 victim to the cremation ground on Sunday, July 12.
Dr Pendyala Sriram works as a district medical surveillance officer in Pedapalli district and was on duty when the patient died. He decided to drive the vehicle to the cremation ground as there was no ambulance available and the driver of the tractor, that was provided by municipal authorities, refused to drive.
A video showing the doctor driving the tractor is viral on social media.
"Since it was the first case in the district, the hospital staff also did not know how to handle the body of a COVID-19 victim, including its packing as per the protocol. In fact, there was a lone woman medical officer and some nurses at the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital does not have a mortuary to preserve the body at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius for a long time and there was not even an ambulance to carry the dead body, let alone a COVID-19 victim," Hindustan Times quoted the doctor as saying.
"The hospital authorities were in a hurry to dispose of the body and the relatives were anxious. I immediately spoke to my superiors, police and the local municipal authorities to make arrangements for the disposal of the body," he said.
Although the tractor arrived, the driver refused to go.
Dr Sriram then wore the personal protection equipment and urged the four members of the deceased's family to do the same. He then drove the body to the cremation ground, about two kilometres away and performed the last rites as per their customs.
"Since I do practise cultivation during the weekends in Karimnagar, I know how to drive a tractor. That came in handy for me in carrying the Covid-19 body in the tractor," he said.
The doctor said that he understood what members of the family of a deceased could go through if there was a delay in handing over the body for cremation.
"In July 2018, I lost my 18-year-old son in a road accident in Bengaluru. And I had to struggle for nearly 20 hours to get his body from the hospital mortuary after post-mortem. I could see the same agony in the faces of the family members of Covid-19," he said.