Hyderabad: It was on the afternoon of July 23rd, that Vinayaka received a call from an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker to enquire about the health of his father. The latter had been diagnosed positive for COVID on July 15th.

However, Vinayaka's father, Bala Narsiah Deety, succumbed to the virus on the evening of July 20th- 3 days before the call.

Mr Narisah, an employee at a chemical laboratory, was admitted to Yashoda Hospital on July 14th after he experienced severe respiratory issues. He was tested positive for coronavirus the next day, after which he allegedly did not receive good care.

"I hardly saw a doctor near my father, and when I spoke to him over a call, he complained about the poor treatment he received," Vinayaka said. He alleged that his father was not provided with food and oxygen in due time and wanted to be taken to a separate hospital.

Vinayaka further claimed that they were charged 20,000 more than the usual intimation charges when they informed the hospital that they want to shift, and that hospital staff kept him outside the main entry without informing them.

He was shifted to Apollo by the family on July 17th. "3 days later, on 20th, we got a call that he was critical. 2 hours after we arrived, he passed away," Vinayaka added.

Narsiah's family alleged that in both the private hospitals, they were only given beds because they were able to pay direct cash. Vinayaka said, "We said that we have insurance covering his treatment, but were told that only if we pay cash will he be admitted in the hospital."

Problems piled upon when they went to Apollo on the morning of 21st and were informed that the dedicated cremation ground staff is on strike. "We were told that there is an illegal way that we can cremate our father, but that can only happen between 5.30 to 7.30 in the evening," Vinayaka added.

He further said that when they were charged Rs 25,000 for this "package" by a private contractor who took them to a cremation ground in Erragada.

"There were dozens of other possible COVID patients' bodies being burned at the venue, along with my father. To speed up his cremation, they even threw large amounts of kerosene," he said.

Despite government guidelines, there were no precautionary measures being taken at the graveyard, and several COVID positive bodies were being cremated together. This sheds light on the lack of health infrastructure in the state," claimed Venkat Balmuri, President, National Students Union India, Telangana.

This is a first-hand account of the death of Bala Narsiah Deety, who had succumbed to COVID on July 20th, as told by his son Vinayaka to Newsmeter reporter Priyali Dhingra.

Priyali Dhingra

Priyali Dhingra is a post graduate in Communication Studies from Hyderabad Central University. She has previously worked as a photojournalist, editorial, and graphic design intern in The Indian Express, Newslaundry, and NDTV. Reigning from Delhi, she has an avid interest in photojournalism, and all things visual. She has also represented India as a delegate in the JENESYS 2019 Student Exchange Program with the Government of Japan. Having pursued her graduation in history from Delhi University, she was also a part of her college's theatre society. Her primary interests include: photography, poetry & politics.

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