Anna Polishchuk, the daughter of a coronavirus victim in Ukraine, told Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty that her father’s body was “tossed out of the hospital in a bag” and that they shut the doors afterwards, without explaining how to properly handle the recently deceased coronavirus patient.
Her father, a 68 year old male living in the western Ukrainian region of Ternopil, passed away on March 25 from a coronavirus infection in the infectious ward of the Ternopil hospital.
Polishchuk says that her father first started feeling poorly on March 17, a little over a week after attending a funeral ceremony held by a priest later confirmed to have coronavirus. Her father went to the hospital and had a test done. The doctor at the time prescribed the man antibiotics. His daughter says that her father’s temperature reached 40 celsius the next day, along with nausea and stomach issues. The man once again turned to a doctor, who prescribed the man a different course of treatment.
On March 21, the man began to experience breathing difficulties, and the family tried to rush him to the hospital – but Polishchuk says that an ambulance arrived only after five hours.
The man was first taken to a local district hospital’s infectious ward, but the next day was transferred to the Ternopil regional hospital. The man perished on March 25.
“My sister called form the hospital and said that she had driven there in her own vehicle, with a coffin, and took the body. She went with her husband in their bus. Then my father’s body was taken out in a bag, and the hospital shut its doors after. My sister and her husband carried the body to the car, helped by a nurse. The bag ripped open and the body fell out. My father weight 100 kg. They put my father’s body into the coffin themselves, without any protective gear. And before this my sister called the hospital, and they told her that the medical staff would not endanger themselves. And then they couldn’t fit the coffin into the bus. Then [my sister] called the head doctor, and he suggested asking the people around, but everyone ran away. Only after 2 hours did a doctor come out in protective gear to help place the coffin into the car,” said Polishschuk.
She added that people from the village her father lived in were scared of the body, and refused to help them dig a grave. The mayor of a nearby town, however, was able to find someone to do so. According to Polishschuk, the coffin was lowered into the grave by the mayor, his deputy, the head of the village council and her sister’s husband.
“My sister shined her phone [on the coffin], and they buried it as it was evening,” relayed Polishschuk.
She doesn’t believe that her husband fell sick from the priest on March 9, but that he had later been infected at the hospital.
“If he had gotten sick at the funeral, that there would be more people sick. I think it’s more likely that the virus came from the [local] hospital,” she believes.
A nurse working at the same local hospital has also fallen ill, and six other medical personnel in the region have also contracted the coronavirus, according to Volodymyr Bohaishchuk, the head of the health department of the Ternopil regional administration.