COVID-19 patient dies at LNJP Hospital 4 days ago; staff mislead son in the same hospital

Rahmatullah had come with his father Majeeth Mustafa and cousin Abdul Gaffar to attend the conference organised by Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin in the Capital

COVID-19 patient dies at LNJP Hospital 4 days ago; staff mislead son in the same hospital

Ashlin Mathew

“We have been in hospitals since March 31. My father died at LNJP Hospital four days ago and though I am admitted in the same hospital, the staff did not let me know despite asking them on Monday morning too. I was informed by my brother-in-law in Chennai,” cried a 49-year-old Rahmatullah on the phone.

Rahmatullah had come with his father Majeeth Mustafa and cousin Abdul Gaffar to attend the conference organised by Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin in the Capital. They had reached New Delhi on a train on March 20 and were scheduled to take the train back on March 24. By then the government had announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown and restricted any social, political or religious gathering. They booked a flight ticket for March 25, but since the lockdown was enforced, they could not get on the flight either. They were quarantined at the Nizamuddin headquarters until March 31, which was when they were taken to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital.

Earlier this month, several of those who attended the large congregation in Nizamuddin unwittingly carried the virus. More than 600 confirmed cases and at least 10 deaths across the country have been linked to people who attended events at the Tablighi Jamaat centre.

Majeeth Mustafa
Majeeth Mustafa

“None of us had symptoms, but they said everyone above the age of 60 had to be hospitalised, so we also went with my father, who is almost 70. They checked our temperatures on that day and as the father has diabetes and hypertension, they gave him those medicines as well,” said Rahmatullah. All three of them were at DDU Hospital until April 7. There were several others from Tamil Nadu at the hospital and many of them are residents of Namakkal and Madurai.

While they were at the hospital, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced that LNJP Hospital would function as the dedicated COVID-19 Hospital in the Capital. The COVID-19 patients from other Delhi-government run hospitals in the national capital were to be moved to LNJP Hospital.

On April 6, they took Mustafa’s throat swabs to check for COVID-19, but results were not given. “The next day, on April 7, they took my father and another patient for an X-Ray. Then they told us that my father had to be shifted to LNJP Hospital. We were not given any reason. Since my father is old, we said we would also go with him. By the time the ambulance drove us from DDU Hospital to LNJP, he started to feel unwell. We were first taken to the emergency ward, where there were six beds and only three of us were there,” added the 49-year-old.

By evening, Rahmatullah was told that his father would require oxygen and so they were going to move him to the Intensive Care Unit. “Even until then, we were not told about the results of the test though we kept asking. On April 8, he was shifted to the ICU and in the evening, I saw him through the glass door. He didn’t see us, but we saw him being helped to go to the toilet,” remembered Rahmatullah.

The situation changed on April 9. At 9 am, he saw his father again through the window as they were not allowed to enter. His father was fully clothed. By 3 pm, when he went to check on his father, he saw that his father was lying in bed without any clothes, but with only diapers. He asked what had happened and Rahmatullah was told that his father was unwell, so they were changing his clothes.

“By 6 pm, they told us that my father would be shifted to the fifth floor, but we couldn’t visit. We were told that his condition was serious. I repeatedly asked the nurses on our floor, who said that they didn’t know his condition as he was shifted to the fifth floor. They said they would conduct tests on him,” explained Rahmatullah. The hospital hasn’t informed him if his father tested positive for the virus. Neither have they informed his cousin or him about their status after the tests.

On April 10, the nurses asked him for details of another family member and Rahmatullah gave the number of his brother-in-law in Chennai. “Again, they didn’t tell me why they needed the number. I thought it was because they wanted to confirm our details. They called and informed him about my father’s death despite me being in the same hospital. My machan (brother-in-law) called and asked what we should do about his burial. That is when I heard about his death. We can’t even see him after his death,” he underscored.

Even after he was informed of his father’s death, when he attempted to confirm it with the hospital staff, they kept denying it. “Even on Sunday morning, I was told that he would be given medicines soon. Since the hospital had informed us of his death, my relatives in Mumbai checked with organisations in Delhi that would help us bury my father. The Delhi Police allegedly kept insisting that a person from Tamil Nadu had to claim the body. We even tried calling the only Muslim MP Navas Gani from Tamil Nadu. But, there was no response,” explained Rahmatullah.

When National Herald reached out to Gani, he said that he had not heard of the matter. “I have not heard of the matter and I have not written a letter to the Delhi Chief Minister. I am in Chennai. People from my party (Indian Union Muslim League) are in Delhi. I’ll call them and find out,” declared Gani. He offered to give the phone number of his Delhi colleague, but he did not share the number.

Authorities from Jamaat-e-Islami and Tablighi Jamaat have been attempting to take charge of the body to bury it with proper rites, but they have been refused by the police as they have been insisting on someone from Tamil Nadu to take the body.

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