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A woman spent nearly 10 hours waiting for the ambulance on Monday, to collect her husband's dead body, who was a suspected Covid-19 patient, The Indian Express reported.
After waiting in the private ambulance for hours, the local police finally came to her rescue. They dialed 108, called the ambulance, and took the deceased's body for cremation at 7 pm.
"I am scared. I have never seen such times. Seeing his body like that," the deceased's 53-year-old wife told the agency.
She said that none of the Christian burial grounds was willing to take the body, as the deceased was a suspected COVID-19 patient.
On May 23, the wife took the 57-year-old man to Seven Hills hospital, a dedicated COVID-19 centre, immediately after he reported difficulty in breathing.
The doctors, however, referred them to KEM hospital, but due to unavailability of any transportation, they couldn't go and returned home.
As the man showed no signs of breathlessness for two days, the couple, residents of Kandivali, decided to wait for the COVID-19 test results. Later in the evening, he again developed a high fever, became breathless and had coughing fits, but somehow passed the night. By 9 am the next morning, he passed away.
Couple's neighbour, Jolly Anthony told the Indian Express that the wife had been trying to reach out to the BMC and police for a long time, but got no assistance.
"We were not able to find an ambulance. We kept calling different numbers but got no help from BMC," Antony said. "I kept looking at his body helplessly. People from my community helped, but when a person is labelled with COVID-19, nobody wants to do his burial," she said as quoted by the agency.
A private ambulance had been booked in between, but the driver refused to carry the body.
By evening, a police official reached the area, dialed 108 to call the ambulance, and took the body to Borivali crematorium. As per the reports, the city has over 150 emergency ambulances for COVID-19 patients.
When questioned on the incident, Dr Balkrishna Adsul, incharge at Seven Hills hospital, told the media agency that patients who are suspected to have a COVID-19 are always referred to King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM), as their hospital was a dedicated centre only for confirmed cases and severely ill patients.
"Being a suspected patient, he had a larger probability to catch the infection if he would have later tested negative," Dr Adsul said.
BMC, on the other hand, told the media that they have been facing a shortage of beds and availability of drivers for ambulances and were already overburdened. But they sent the ambulance right after the complaint was raised.
Around the first week of May, The Indian Express reported Maharashtra facing shortages of ambulances that are further delaying response time in attending to COVID-19 patients and collecting bodies of the deceased.
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