• The elderly woman was moved to another ward without her husband's knowledge
  • Her husband was then told by hospital authorities that she died of COVID-19 
  • He identified "her body" in the morgue and the family performed final rites

A 75-year-old woman who was “declared dead” due to COVID-19 and “cremated” last month returned home Wednesday, leaving her family members shocked and outraged.

Muktyala Girijamma, hailing from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, was declared dead on May 15 by the doctors of Government General Hospital due to the virus. The bereaved relatives were then handed over “her body" which they cremated as per the COVID-19 protocol.

But, now that Girijamma has returned home healthy, her relatives are baffled as to whose body did they cremate, and how the grave error happened, reported ANI News.

Girijamma tested positive for COVID-19 on May 12. Her son, 36-year-old Ramesh had also contracted the virus. While Ramesh was admitted to a private hospital in the town of Khammam, Girijamma was taken to the government hospital, accompanied by her husband.

Three days later, Girijamma was shifted to another ward of the hospital without the knowledge of her husband. He was then informed that his wife had passed away due to the illness. The authorities instructed him to go to the mortuary to collect the body.

The husband then "identified" a body that was wrapped in a protective layer as per the COVID-19 protocol. None of the relatives were able to identify or see the body up close at the time.

Girijamma's son Ramesh also died of COVID-19 on May 23.

"My uncle found a body that looked like his wife. Hospital authorities issued a death certificate. The family members took that body home and performed final rites on that day. Girijamma's son Ramesh died on May 23. A prayer meeting was held for both," Girijamma's nephew Nagu told ANI News.

He alleged that the duty doctor failed to inform his uncle about the shifting of Girijamma to another ward.

Thanking God for giving her another chance to live, Girijamma said she is happy to be back home. "I am happy to see my family and village again. I do not know what happened in the hospital," she told The New Indian Express.

She was heartbroken to hear about her son’s death when she returned home.

Last month, a 40-year-old man faced a similar fate in the Indian state of Rajasthan after hospital authorities erroneously declared him dead. Goverdhan Prajapat, under treatment at a local hospital, was declared dead and a body in the initial stages of decomposition was handed over to his relatives. However, a week after his funeral was performed, Prajapat showed up at his home, much to the shock of his family members.

Dead body
Representational image Getty Images/ John Moore