When Raj Gupta received a phone call from the nodal COVID-19 hospital in Kolkata to say an ambulance was on its way to collect his father, the iron merchant was stunned. Just 24 hours earlier, the same hospital had discharged his 68-year-old father, Om Prakash, declaring that he was not infected with the coronavirus.
On Monday, Raj Gupta used his cellphone to film his father leaving their house for a hospital for the second time. Om Prakash never returned. Within 12 hours of being readmitted to the hospital, he died.
“My father was admitted to Bangur (Hospital). They said he has tested positive and asked us to be under home quarantine. The next day, we got a call from Bangur Hospital, saying my father has tested negative and that he can leave. The discharge certificate clearly has ‘COVID-19 negative’ written on it. We then got a call from the Health Department saying that my father has tested positive again,” Raj Gupta said.
“How can a person who walked on his own death? This is negligence. My father has been murdered. We want answers from Bangur Hospitals and the highest officials at the Health Ministry on why this happened. We want them to come here and give us answers. Our family should be compensated,” he said.
The Health Department has ordered an inquiry into Om Prakash’s case. His frail wife, their son, and daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren will be tested for COVID-19 next week on May 3.
Last week, Om Prakash complained of symptoms like fever and cough and was admitted to the state-run MR Bangur Hospital. Raj Gupta says the Health Department phoned him to say his father had tested positive. Four days later, however, the hospital phoned Raj Gupta to say his father had rested negative.
When Raj Gupta pointed out he was being given two diametrically opposite results, hospital officials curtly said they would not be ready to send him home if they weren’t sure that he was not infected.