Woman with COVID-19 symptoms buried alone

A woman, suspected to have died with COVID-19 symptoms, being buried at Khilgaon-Taltola graveyard on Sunday. Photo: Ahmed Deepto

It was six in the evening, 29 March 2020. Two ambulances entered the Khilgaon-Taltola graveyard and stopped at the Jhilpar end. Five people wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) emerged from one of the ambulances and carried a dead body on a stretcher out from the other ambulance. Then three, including the graveyard’s imam, joined them to perform her namaz-e-janaza. After burying the body, the five people removed their PPE and destroyed these in a fire.

This is how a woman, suspected to have died with COVID-19 symptoms, was buried at the Khilgaon-Taltola graveyard on Sunday.

The employees of Dhaka North City Corporation, who are in-charge of the graveyard, said the woman was 50 and a resident of Dhaka city’s Mohammadpur area.

About her burial, Md Ferdous, a staff of the graveyard, told Prothom Alo that the woman’s husband and a son were present during the burial.

Husband of the deceased said that he does not know whether his wife was infected with coronavirus or not. She was suffering from fever, cold and breathing problems for past few days, he added. But they, the husband also said, did not go to any hospital.

He added that Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) collected her sample on Sunday morning but she died before getting the test result.

“The test result matters nothing now. I can’t say anything more,” he told Prothom Alo.

Two city corporations decided to bury coronavirus victims in the city at the Khilgaon-Taltola graveyard but local people protested at the decision. This created a dilemma over the burial grounds for the coronavirus victims.

Later, a coronavirus victim was buried at the graveyard on Wednesday.

A local youth who took part in that janaza told Prothom Alo, “No relatives were present during that burial. Even those who brought the body did not want to touch it. Later, we four youths of the locality wore PPE and buried the body.”

“Many people opposed the idea of using this graveyard for burial of COVID-19 victims. But we took initiative seeing the body lying that way (without burial),” he added.

*The piece, appeared in Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Imam Hossain and Galib Ashraf.