Residents of Balongan district in West Java’s Indramayu regency recently made the heartbreaking discovery of a mother holding onto the decomposing body of her daughter — a case that illustrates how medical attention for COVID-19 is a privilege for many Indonesians.
When they were found on Friday, the mother, identified as 70-year-old ST, was lying down and embracing her deceased daughter, 56-year-old SY — the latter of whom was estimated to have died three days prior to the discovery.
ST and SY lived in a building owned by a local resident, which had originally been planned to be transformed into a cowshed. According to reports, the mother and daughter were allowed to live in the building out of the pity of their neighbors, as they didn’t have a home after SY’s husband died.
When they were found, SY’s body had decomposed and was oozing a rotten odor, which alerted local residents. When they saw the two women on the floor, the neighbors thought that both ST and SY were deceased.
“When [her body] was shaken, the mother, ST, showed signs of life. She hugged her dead daughter for three days,” Balongan district secretary Encep RS said on Monday.
SY reportedly commuted on a regular basis to Jakarta, and fell ill not long after a recent return from the capital. Sohekah Nurdiani, who heads the local puskesmas (community clinic), said that while SY likely died from COVID-19, they cannot determine it to be the cause of SY’s death, explaining that it was impossible to conduct a PCR swab test as she had been decomposing.
However, ST had since tested positive for the coronavirus, which added weight to the suspicion that her daughter succumbed to COVID-19. It’s likely that ST lost her sense of smell due to COVID-19, which would explain why she seemingly did not smell her daughter’s decomposing body.
ST is currently undergoing self-isolation under the supervision of the local puskesmas and the village task force, the latter of which is supplying her with food and daily necessities.
This article, Elderly West Java woman with COVID-19 found embracing daughter’s decomposing body, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.