MUMBAI, May 7: Taking a stern view of a macabre video showing Covid-19 patients sleeping alongside the dead in a city hospital, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar on Thursday ordered a probe into the incident which ignited a major political controversy.
She personally visited the LTMG Hospital in Sion to look into the matter and hold discussions with the concerned authorities on the issue that rocked the social media and shocked the citizens.
"Its not yet clear where it (video) is shot... But now that we know such a thing is happening, we have ordered a probe into the incident and those found guilty will face the repercussions," a grim Pednekar told IANS on Thursday.
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Nitesh N. Rane posted the chilling video purportedly showing the Covid-19 patients sleeping alongside the dead in the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)'s LTMG Hospital, Sion, a major Covid-19 treatment facility.
The issue, which was first highlighted by IANS yesterday (May 6) snowballed into a huge row today.
"Since disposal of bodies of both Covid-19 and non-Corona patients is an issue, we are setting up a high-level committee to suggest guidelines for the same. It will submit a report by the weekend and we shall act on it," Pednekar added.
The Mayor said due to the lockdown since May 25, in case of Covid-19 deaths, the immediate family members of the victims are unable to come and collect the bodies.
"Either the family members are themselves in quarantine or unable to travel to the various hospitals to claim the bodya Other relatives are reluctant to take away the bodies. Since it's a matter involving different faiths and customs, we do not interfere much," Pednekar admitted.
Though the Mayor appeared non-committal on the video shoot location, state BJP Vice-President Kirit Somaiya claimed that the person who shot it reportedly identified it as the Sion Hospital's Ward No. 5, ground floor, dedicated for emergency/Covid-19 where the "pathetic condition of dead bodies along with patients" was filmed.
Coming down heavily on the civic administration, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the "Sion Hospital incident is extremely serious and shocking."
"Patients who are being treated are lying beside dead bodies. This is utterly inhuman. Is there no one to care for Mumbai? Govt must immediately look into this and ensure that it doesn't happen ever again," Fadnavis urged.
The petrifying video posted by Rane showed the Covid-19 treatment ward in the Sion Hospital where around half a dozen dead bodies are lying on beds next to the living patients undergoing treatment there.
The bodies were tied up in black plastic bags, a few also had some kind of a sheet or a blanket spread on them even as other Covid-19 patients were lying on adjacent beds, either ignorant or oblivious of their ghoulish surroundings.
Surprisingly, despite supposedly being an isolated treatment centre, several persons - who don't appear to be health workers - were seen casually moving around in the ward, including the female relative of one patient lying on a bed.
Though Pednekar couldn't ascertain for how long those bodies were lying on the ward beds, she said the rules are they (bodies) must be shifted out within 15-30 minutes of the death.
Senior Mumbai Congress leader and former Union Minister Milind M. Deora said he was "outraged to see corpses laid beside the sick at Sion Hospital".
"Why isn't the BMC following WHO prescribed protocols when disposing of Covid-19 corpses? Public hospital staff are doing their best with limited resources at hand. Mumbai's administration needs to step up NOW," urged Deora.
In a fresh assault today, Rane said first the Sion Hospital Dean termed the video as fake and now it says the relatives don't come to claim them (bodies) so they are kept there.
He contended that people have lost faith in the BMC and its health department, and demanded the resignation of Municipal Commissioner (Praveen Pardeshi) if he can't handle the situation and stop playing with lives.
Maharashtra has notched 16,758 Covid-19 cases and 651 deaths, while Mumbai has recorded 412 fatalities and 10,714 patients till date. - IANS