The row over the burial of the body of a priest, who tested positive for COVID-19 before he breathed his last on Tuesday, is escalating.
Several residents of Nalanchira suburb in Thiruvananthapuram district are protesting against the burial of Fr KG Varghese's body at the church cemetery here.
The body is now in the mortuary of the Government Medical College Hospital.
Fr Varghese (77), who was suffering from severe respiratory illness, breathed his last on Tuesday at Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, where he was admitted following a bike accident.
According to COVID protocol, the body will have to be buried as per the directives issued by the Health Department.
It was then decided that the body will not be interred at the local cemetery as it has a vault.
It was then decided to conduct the burial at a church cemetery atop a hill.
However, this decision too was met with protests by the local residents. The grave that was dug was filled in again on the demands of the residents.
Though the Mayor intervened, a resolution could not be found.
Fr Varghese's family expressed consent to cremate his body in wake of the protests but Orthodox Diocese Head Dr Gabriel Mar Gregorios is pursuing all efforts to find a solution to the issue.
It is still unclear from where Fr Varghese contracted the disease. Health officials are carrying out contact tracing procedures. Two wards of Peroorkada district hospital where Fr Varghese was treated have now been shut.
The doctor and healthcare workers who treated him at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital have been moved into quarantine. However, the wards and intensive care units here have not been closed yet.
After the bike accident, Fr Varghese was undergoing treatment since April 20.
Fr Varghese is the twelfth person to succumb to the COVID-19 in Kerala.