Video of Indonesian family unwrapping body of suspected coronavirus fatality goes viral

Indonesian medical staff preparing a room for patients in Jakarta on March 23, 2020.
Indonesian medical staff preparing a room for patients in Jakarta on March 23, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A video showing a family uncovering the shroud of a dead woman suspected to have been coronavirus-positive in Kolaka regency, South-east Sulawesi, has gone viral on social media.

The video, uploaded by several users onto Twitter, showed a family carrying the body of the dead patient into a house and later unwrapping the plastic from around it. reported that the patient, a 34-year-old woman, died in an isolation ward at Bahteramas General Hospital in Kendari on Monday (March 23). She had been under surveillance for the coronavirus that causes the disease called Covid-19.

Bahteramas Hospital's acting head, Mr Sjarif Subijakto, said the dead woman had suffered from acute pneumonia. He said her family refused to allow an ambulance to take the body away in a casket. They later took it by themselves in their own car.

Mr Rabiul Awal, the spokesman for the South-east Sulawesi task force for Covid-19, said he regretted the family's disobedience of the burial procedures for dead Covid-19 patients as mandated by the World Health Organisation, although the dead patient was only suspected to have had the disease.

"The hospital had initially wrapped the body with plastic, but the family uncovered it," Mr Rabiul said, as quoted by "The patient had been treated under Covid-19 standards. Only medical personnel were allowed to bathe the body while wearing protective gear."

He said such a situation occurred because of a lack of understanding of the proper protocols for handling dead people suspected to have had Covid-19.

The body of the woman posed a high risk of spreading the coronavirus if she eventually tested positive for the disease, the spokesman said. Therefore, family and other mourners of dead people suspected to have had Covid-19 were put on the lists of people under surveillance, requiring them to self-isolate at home.

Mr Rabiul also asked the public to refrain from speculating about the patient's condition while awaiting her test results.


"We sent her samples to Jakarta on Tuesday. It takes three to five days until the results show up."