A video showing bodies of COVID-19 victims lying unattended near patients undergoing treatment for the virus infection at the civic-run Sion hospital in Mumbai went viral on Thursday.
Announcing a probe, Dr Pramod Ingle, dean of the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital in Sion area, said the reluctance of relatives to collect bodies led to this situation.
A statement issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in the evening quoted him as saying that a probe will be conducted into the genuineness of the video.
Earlier, the Dean said relatives of coronavirus victims are often reluctant to take possession of bodies, and "that is the reason why the bodies were kept there unattended.
"We have now removed the bodies and are probing the matter," he said.
Asked why the bodies were not shifted to the mortuary, Dr Ingle said, "There are 15 slots in the hospital's mortuary of which 11 were already filled."
If all the bodies were shifted to the mortuary, there would be no space for storing bodies of those who die of causes other than coronavirus infection, he added.
As of Wednesday, Mumbai had reported 10,527 COVID-19 cases and 412 deaths.
In a statement issued in the evening by the BMC, Dr Ingle said the civic body has formed a committee to verify the "genuineness and facts" of the video. It will submit a report within 24 hours and an action will be taken against those found responsible, the statement said.
The BMC had directed, as per the state government's guidelines, that bodies of COVID-19 victims be handed over to the relatives within 30 minutes, the dean said.
But many times relatives are unavailable to take the body and sometimes they do not turn up despite repeated calls, Dr Ingle said.
Strict institutions were given to avoid the recurrence of such incidents, he added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, the Opposition, slammed the Shiv Sena-ruled BMC over the video.
"The Sion hospital has shown utmost negligence by letting COVID-19 patients sleep among the bodies of those who died of the same disease," tweeted BJP MLA Nitesh Rane.
Noting that the hospital mostly gets patients from Dharavi, the biggest slum in the country, he asked "is this how we treat our working class?" Such carelessness couldresult in further spread of coronavirus infection, he added.