A new video from Patna's Nalanda Medical College and Hospital or NMCH - the main hospital in Bihar's capital for coronavirus patients - has raised yet more questions about the management of bodies of victims amid pandemic. Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey said it was a "cause for concern", but added: "We have to follow the protocols of how to dispose off bodies of Covid victims."
This is the second disturbing video in two days that shows patients lying in the wards of the hospital on beds next to the unattended bodies of Covid victims. Family members can also be seen in the same rooms, exposed to the risk of contracting the virus.
In the latest video, a man shooting the clip shows a body lying in a hospital corridor. "This is the first body," he says as he takes the camera to a room full of patients.
"Aunty," he is heard asking a woman lying on the floor. "Since when are you waiting?" he asks - apparently about the body lying on a hospital bed - as he gets a reply: "A few hours".
"Has anybody come? Has anybody told when it will be taken?" the man asks. "No," the woman, who is probably the victim's family member, says in a crumbling voice.
On Monday, a video from the same hospital showed the body of a victim covered with a sheet on a bed. A patient's son was heard saying that several complaints had been lodged with hospital administration but "...still they are not responding and taking it away".
In the last two days, family members have been kept waiting for as long as 12 hours by the NMCH administration to take the bodies with them.
When questioned, the management said the district administration, which is tasked with collecting the bodies and arranging last rites, would not pick them up before late evening. This was because locals organised protests during the day-time to object to the cremation of COVID-19 victims there.
Responding to the videos, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey told NDTV: "It's a cause of concern for us but we have to follow the protocols of how to dispose off bodies of Covid victims ..and it's time consuming, which creates lot of anxiety among other patients in those wards. Sometimes, family members staying outside Patna take time to reach the hospital."
However, as the number of COVID-19-linked deaths go up in Bihar, which has logged over 27,000 cases so far, family members of the patients - left at the receiving end - seek an urgent resolution.
Across the states, several officers have been deployed by the state government to streamline hospital management yet the situation remains unchanged.
Critics say that Bihar government is lacking a proper protocol for managing bodies of victims.
On Sunday, the centre had sent a three-member team to assess the state's response and probe allegations that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had mishandled the crisis.