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Deodath Nagessar

The delay in COVID-19 results has prevented a Couva family from saying their last goodbyes to a relative who died just over two weeks ago.

According to relatives, on August 22, 53-year-old Deodath Nagessar visited the Couva Hospital to seek medical attention for an injury he received during an accident on work a week prior. However, he was sent to the San Fernando General Hospital and upon reaching there, he was placed in a viral tent and while awaiting treatment passed away.

Complicating matters further, relatives said, is that they are yet to get closure as the body’s release has been delayed. They said they were told this was because of the pending COVID-19 test result which was necessary before a post-mortem could be done.

“When the brothers were there on the day that he died, they (health officials) said they would have done the autopsy on Monday. Then they called and say no they can’t do it —some procedure they have to follow…it keep going on like this and Tuesday when they went they say the test ain’t come back. That’s how it’s been going for the past two weeks,” Nagessar’s sister-in-law Arian Nagessar told Guardian Media yesterday.

Her husband, Sookdeo “Spy” Nagessar, is one of Deodath’s older brothers. Both Sookdeo and Arian live in the house next door to Deodath.

“It’s really traumatising for the family. He have two sisters and three brothers. All of them lived here, his mom and dad—they passed—and that’s their last brother. So it’s really hard for them,” she said.

By yesterday evening, however, the family got word that Deodath’s test result was negative for COVID-19 and the autopsy is scheduled to be conducted today.

Contacted yesterday, South Western Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) corporate communications manager Kevon Gervais expressed condolences to the family and said they were working with them.

“The clinicians at south-west has been liaising with the family to provide an understanding and to assist the family in understanding what may have transpired with the patient,” he said.

The delay in COVID-19 test results came as a result of the community transmission of the virus which placed an additional burden on the parallel healthcare system. The Ministry of Health has since been at work to clear the backlog of outstanding tests and to expand the testing infrastructure.