A bereaved Zimbabwean family has narrated their nightmarish ordeal after their brother in law died and the drama which followed afterwards when his corpse was denied storage at hospital’s mortuary.
Their brother in law died at a private hospital during the lockdown and instead of being put in the morgue, his body was stashed in a wheelchair, covered with a blanket and put outside near the car park.
The body is reported to have spent the whole night outside as the staff feared that the deceased had succumbed to Covid-19, which was not the case.
The deceased, Paul, a 77-year-old white man, died barely 30 minutes after arrival at the Trauma Centre and within 10 minutes of being attended to.
Paul had been in the country since the 24th of February after he had returned from the UK.
Upon his return he had been quarantined for more that 5 weeks, which is 2 more weeks as the standard procedure requires a 21 day self quarantine period for people coming into the country from abroad.
The family said he had a bout of pneumonia, not related to Covid-19.
Said Tapiwa, Paul’s brother in law.
“I called (private hospital) and told them I have someone with hydrostatic pneumonia – because he has been diagnosed that day by his doctor. The condition is caused by being in one position for too long. They said they can treat such a patient but needed US$200 for protective clothing.
The family took him to the hospital and were quite sure he didn’t have Covid-19 as they had all isolated themselves since March.
“So we got there and we were all sprayed down, paid the US$200 and that was around 7:30pm. We waited while they were dressing for about 20 minutes. They then came and took him to the resuscitation area but he died within 10 minutes, before he had been admitted or anything.
They were advised to call a funeral parlor and the Borrowdale police and they did so.
Speaking to Hmetro, Tapiwa said the horror show started.
They asked the police to come but they stated that there is a procedure which must be done first and helped them to contact the Covid-19 Rapid Response Team .
Upon their return to the private hospital, they saw that a deceased Paul was still sitting in his wheelchair.
He asked if they could lay the body down before rigor mortis set in.
The hospital staff and a lady identified as Anna insisted that the body had to go as the family and the police waited for the rapid response team to arrive.
“She didn’t even introduce herself, she just said what is happening with the body, it has to go. She was basically threatening them (the police) saying you are causing problems which you will not be able to handle. The police were clear that they were waiting to hear the way forward on how to proceed.
Paul’s widow, who was with the body was kicked out into the car park area, with Paul’s body covered in disposable bags , one in the head and another on his feet and the time was close to midnight.
She was also told not to leave the premises even after they kicked her out.
Paul’s body was wheeled outside and spent the night at the verandah area.
“Why would you put a body outside? Even if he had Covid, which he did not, why? What is so frustrating and annoying is that they put him there where anyone could access him covered by a blanket and bin bags!
Paul’s family were not even tested for the virus after the harrowing ordeal.