Incident Reports

Family of man suspected of Covid-19 infection refuses to accept his body alleging hospital of negligence


Lumbini, Rupandehi, Butwal

Six days after the death of Baburam Thapa, who was suspected of Covid-19 infection but later tested negative, his family is yet to collect the body. The family alleges the hospital of negligence in Thapa’s treatment. Thapa died on Sunday at the makeshift coronavirus-specific hospital in Butwal. His body is currently kept at Lumbini Provincial Hospital.

Reiterating that there was negligence from the hospital administration, Thapa’s wife, Rita, said that the family will not accept the body until there’s an investigation into the death.

“We want an investigation into his death,” said Rita. “We want relief and government’s assurance to bear the cost of the study of our two children, among other things.”

Provincial Minister of Social Development Sudarshan Baral admitted that there were “managerial shortcomings” in Thapa’s treatment.

“We admit that we couldn’t manage a ventilator and an ICU facility at the makeshift hospital,” he said. “There has been a managerial shortcoming, but it’s wrong to accuse the hospital administration and physicians of negligence.”

Baral added that since the patient was suffering from respiratory diseases and was suspected of carrying Covid-19, transferring him to an ICU where other patients were getting treatment was risky.

“But this is not a case of negligence from the hospital administration and physicians, so the family should collect the body,” the minister said.

The 34-year-old man from Palpa district was kept in an isolation ward set up at the makeshift coronavirus-specific hospital in Butwal after he suffered from fever and cough, two of the major symptoms of Covid-19. Thapa had returned from Dubai a week ago and was admitted at the isolation facility on March 26, as referred by the Lumbini Provincial Hospital (LPH), where the man had first visited.

Dr Rajendra Khanal, medical superintendent at Lumbini Provincial Hospital, said that Thapa was referred to the coronavirus-centric hospital after he showed symptoms of Covid-19.

“Even though he was not severely ill, the man showed symptoms of Covid-19, like fever and cough,” Khanal said. “He was normal until Saturday evening, but suddenly, on Sunday morning, he was critically ill.”

When Thapa was pronounced dead three days after he was admitted to the hospital, his throat swab was yet to be tested, Khanal said.

Khanal said that the hospital collects throat swabs of about a dozen patients for three days before sending them to the Capital for tests.

“The provincial government thinks it’s costly to send individual samples,” he said.

Thapa’s wife, Rita, 27, has also alleged the hospital of keeping the family in the dark, refusing to provide information about his health status.

“It is only after he died that we got to know his test was delayed,” she said.

Butwal sends the throat swabs of individuals suspected of Covid-19 infections to the Kathmandu-based Teku Hospital every three days. Teku Hospital was the only testing lab in the country until the government expanded the facility to Dharan and Hetauda.

Details and Impacts
Violent / Non-violent Nonviolent
Primary Form Other forms of non-violent protest
Primary Cause Extra-judicial response related to perceived healthcare malpractice/after death of patient
Secondary Cause Prejudice and Discrimination
Actor 1 - Number of people 5
Actor 1 - Affiliations Protesters/demonstrators
Actor 1 - Youth unknown
Actor 2 - Number of people n/a
Actor 2 - Affiliation (Target) Health sector/health workers, doctors
Actor 2 - Youth na
National/Online Media