Panicked family abandons Covid-19 victim’s body

Relatives fear social stigma, infection and transfer to quarantine facilities

​ Our Correspondent June 03, 2020
Relatives fear social stigma, infection and transfer to quarantine facilities PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

LAHORE: Police arranged the burial of a Covid-19 victim in Ferozwala after his family left his body unattended at their home, demonstrating how the precautionary measure of maintaining a safe distance is manifesting itself into a discriminatory attitude towards the patients.

The deceased was a resident of Sabir Town, Wandala Diyal Shah.

SHO Amir Mehboob said the police were informed that a man had died in the locality and the family members were leaving the house. The police reached the spot and found that a large number of people had gathered in the street and the house was locked from inside.

After entering the house, they found that a room was also locked and the body was lying there. They broke the door and found that the victim had died due to Covid-19.

The police called Rescue 1122 and Edhi Foundation to shift the body and also contacted the family.

However, none of the family members reached the spot in four hours and the burial arrangements were made by the police.

Investigations revealed that the family had left the deceased unattended due to the fear of contracting the virus and being taken into custody for being kept in quarantine.

Other cases were also reported in the city in which those infected by Covid-19 were abandoned.

In Dharampura, a youth hid in a room after he reportedly started showing symptoms and his neighbours adopted a harsh attitude with his family. When the emergency service came to the house to shift the suspected patient to a hospital for threatment , he was found dead.

There have also been complains of neglect of victims in quarantine centres and hospitals by the staff deputed there.

A social boycott of the families of suspected patients of novel coronavirus by neighbours and relatives is being reported extensively.

Punjab University Applied Psychology Professor Farah Malik blamed the government for creating fear among the people through its flawed policies. She said the anxiety regarding the pandemic had now turned into a phobia.

She added that whenever a case was reported, the whole family was shifted into quarantine centres, sometimes at undisclosed locations. She also pointed out reported protests at the quarantine facility set up at the Expo Centre against lack of food, medicines and treatment.

It was also being propagated that the figure of confirmed cases of the disease was so high that there was no place in hospitals, she said.

Two days back, the prime minister had indicated to the people that the authorities could do nothing for them, leading to a sense of insecurity, she said.

Prof Malik said there were also reports that the doctors had not been provided protective equipment and the infection rate in their families was increasing.

She said the leadership should have clearly told the people that they were in a state of war with the disease and saving their lives was the utmost priority.

She also lamented that the government had not taken on board the psychologists to cope with the situation. She also accused the media of contributing to spreading panic amid the pandemic.

In an effort to undo the social stigmatization attached with the disease, she said, it was better to tell people that the pandemic could affect anyone and preventive measures like maintaining distance or wearing mask were effective in saving them.

She said awareness about precautions regarding the bodies of the victims was also needed.


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