Apr 14, 2021 News
By Shannard Mentus
Kaieteur News – Menisha Ramjattan and her family are seeking answers on how the body of their relative, who was pronounced dead at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) after being tested positive for COVID-19, was buried by another family while that family’s body was presented to them for burial.
According to Ms. Ramjattan, her brother, Wazim Ramjattan, 35, was taken to the GPHC on March 29, after he started bleeding from the nose and lost consciousness. Understandably alarmed, his family rushed him to GPHC’s Accident and Emergency Unit.
Kaieteur News understands that Mr. Ramjattan was pronounced dead on arrival. Upon hearing this, Ms. Ramjattan requested to see her brother, but was denied. Prior to this, the family was questioned as to whether her brother had taken a COVID test, to which they answered that he did on March 27, the result returning with a positive diagnosis the next day.
At the GPHC, a check was made with the facility in Houston, East Bank Demerara, where the deceased did the test. It was confirmed by that facility, that Wazim was infected with the novel coronavirus. Accordingly, GPHC labelled his cause of death as COVID-19, since he died within the 14 days of having tested positive. Kaieteur News made contact with Communications Manager of GPHC, Chelauna Providence, in relation to the matter. According to Ms. Providence, if a person has been infected with COVID-19 and dies within a 14-day period, the cause of death is automatically announced as a COVID related one.
Ms. Ramjattan reported that she was later informed of her brother’s body was situated at the Memorial Gardens Crematorium. With this, she and her family decided to head there to view/identify her brother, due to them not seeing him since his death on March 29. Ms. Providence pointed out that due to the National COVID-19 Protocols, a person who has been deemed dead due to Coronavirus is not kept at the GPHC, but is referred to the Memorial Gardens Crematorium for immediate burial.
Subsequently, Ms. Ramjattan went to Memorial Gardens on the 4th of this month (April) and was reportedly given a difficult time to view the body. After multiple calls and being persistent, Ramjattan was finally able to view the body presented to her. This, however, was proven not be her brother.
According to information received by this paper, before Ms. Ramjattan and family could have witnessed the body, family members of another individual were there at the Memorial Gardens earlier in the day to carry out burial proceedings also. When that family arrived, they mistakenly identified and buried Wazim’s body in place of their own relative, a 45-year-old man who had also died from COVID. Ramjattan has since been asking questions regarding her brother and how the mix-up occurred.
Ms. Providence relayed to Kaieteur News that a meeting was held involving the two families and it was agreed to by both parties that Wazim and the other man will be buried beside each other. She was however afterward informed by Ramjattan, that she no longer wants the burial to take place in that fashion and the family would like to retrieve the body of Wazim Ramjattan to bury him closer to home.
Ms. Providence stated that she and the GPHC are willing to give whatever assistance they can to the family, but removing the body from where it is would be a breach of the National Protocol and this is something that the GPHC will not be doing. She said that what had happened is no fault of the GPHC, or the Memorial Gardens, but a simple and honest mistake. It was also relayed to Kaieteur News that the Memorial Gardens has taken some responsibility for the mix-up, and compensated the family by paying for all burial arrangements.
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