Shillong, April 16: A 69-year-old doctor, the first COVID-19 patient to die in Meghalaya, was laid to rest at a cemetery here on Thursday, a day after a city crematorium denied performing his last rites, citing lack of personal protective gear to handle coronavirus fatalities, and protest by locals.
John L Sailo Ryntathiang, founder of the Bethany Hospitals in the state, died on Wednesday morning, while six members of his family, including his wife, tested COVID-19 positive.
The Shillong premises of the Bethany Hospitals, where Sailo was admitted, and its second campus at Nongpoh in Ri Bhoi district, were sealed and sanitised while all occupants of the two facilities were quarantined inside the medical establishments, officials said.
“Dr John L Sailo Ryntathiang laid to rest at the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Cemetry today. Kindness is the need of the hour and our gratitude goes to the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Church for their gesture. May his soul rest in peace,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma tweeted,
Officials at the crematorium had denied permission for cremation, citing lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Residents of Them Mawbah came out in large numbers on Wednesday night to protest against the cremation in their locality.
The executive committee of Nongpoh town had also denied permission to Sailo’s family to bury the body at his farmhouse there as neighbours were apprehensive about the situation.
However, the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian church voluntarily offered its space for burial.
Sailo’s body was buried after strictly following WHO guidelines and staff members of the Shillong Municipal Board were also involved in the burial processes, a senior district official said.
Till now, state health authorities have traced 2,000 people who came in contact with the doctor’s family and staff at the Bethany hospital since March 22. Tests are being carried out, the official said.
Fifty swab samples collected from primary contacts of the doctor have already tested negative at the Gauhati Medical College.
In total, 216 tests have been conducted, out of which 204 have tested negative and six positive. (PTI)