Locals from Teesta, around 18 km from Kalimpong town, have alleged negligence on the part of the Kalimpong District Hospital over the Covid test report of a 68-year-old woman from their area, who was tested positive after her death. The local people said many people had attended her funeral.

The woman had been admitted in the Kalimpong hospital on 16 August after she experienced a bout of diarrhoea and she died on the 19th. Her Covid report that came yesterday showed she had the virus. However, the body had already been handed over to the family and a funeral service also conducted.

“This is negligence on the part of the hospital as the family had requested Rapid Antigen Test soon after she was admitted there, but the staff said they did not have kits to conduct such tests and that a RT-PCR swab test was done on August 17. After she died, her body was handed over to the family yesterday morning, while we came to know of the test report coming positive only in the evening,” a resident of Teesta Bazaar, Vishal Rai, said.

“How was her body handed over to the family without her Covid test results first arriving? A funeral was held and people attended it, and now they are exposed to the virus,” he added.

Mr Rai also alleged that there was no official confirmation given to the family about her being positive, which everyone came to know from the social media.

“It is also a sad thing that the hospital also did not have kits to conduct the RAT which could have confirmed the virus much earlier. I appeal to the hospital authorities to keep such kits ready so such incidents are not repeated,” said Mr Rai.

Following the woman’s death, the female ward of the hospital in which she was admitted has been closed since yesterday with the few patients that were there shifted to cabins. The staff and nurses of that ward are presently in quarantine in the Marwari Bhawan in Kalimpong, sources said.

When contacted, Kalimpong District Magistrate R Vimala said, “The hospital authorities informed me that she was a diarrhoea patient and had no Covid symptoms, which was why a RT-PCR test was done for which the results came later. Moreover, it was important that immediate saline be given to her.”

“We are checking into the part of her funeral being held as even for other deaths there is a restriction in the number of people that can attend it. After we got information, we have collected all the names of those who attended the funeral and those who have met the family at different points of time. We have collected about 100 such names and they have been asked to stay in home quarantine. All of them will be tested soon,” she said.

The DM also said that the female ward of the hospital had been disinfected and that it would reopen after a few days.