The last rites of an elderly man, who became the first casualty of Coronavirus in Bengal, was considerably delayed as wary locals put up a road blockade in the city's Nimtala area to stop government officials from cremating him, saying it could lead to virus transmission.
According to police sources, senior officers took over two hours to convince the residents that necessary measures have been taken to avoid contamination.
The final rites of the 57-year-old man were initiated around 11.45 am on Monday, they said.
"We had to tell them that all protocols have been followed in wrapping up the body of the deceased, as per government guidelines. There was no reason to be scared," a senior officer of the Kolkata Police Central Division said.
An official of the health department said there was a long delay in handing over the body, as a family member who was supposed to authorize the whole process failed to turn up at the hospital.
Also, it was difficult to find a hearse for the body, he said.
It was only after his wife, currently placed under quarantine at a state-run hospital, gave her consent, the body was handed over to the department, he added.
"The body was embalmed in chemicals, wrapped in a prescribed material, following government guidelines. We managed to get a hearse to take the body to Nimtala crematorium ground under the surveillance of a team of Bidhannagar City Police officers," a hospital official said.
West Bengal on Monday reported its first death due to COVID-19, after the elderly man who tested positive for the disease last week died at 3.35 pm at a private hospital.
A resident of Dum Dum in North 24 Parganas, he was admitted to the hospital on February 16 with fever and dry cough. His situation deteriorated on February 19, following which he was put on a ventilator.