FACT CHECK – Were the PCR records of a deceased Muslim woman from Ratmalana changed, in order to accommodate her burial

Coronavirus False

During the first wave of the novel Coronavirus spread in Sri Lanka, health authorities decided that all dead bodies infected with Covid-19 should be cremated. In fact, there has been a lot of talk recently around the topic of burying or cremating Covid-19 infected corpses. While the government has not yet given an official permission for the burial of Covid-19 infected bodies, we recently conducted an investigation in this regard. 

Meanwhile, a recent report told of an 83-year-old Muslim woman who died at her home in Borupana, Ratmalana and who was identified to be a close relative of Justice Minister Ali Sabry was buried according to Islamic burial traditions after falsifying PCR test reports. However, our investigations revealed this as a fabricated story distorting the facts of an actual death of a Muslim woman, which happened in Rathmalana.

SOCIAL MEDIA REPORTS:

The LankaeNews Facebook published a post titled “Ali Sabri’s aunt dies of corona infection, Fake PCR report issued and buried..!” followed by a long narration

The facts presented in the post are as follows:

Ahmed Junaideen Fatima Nilusha, a Muslim woman who died on November 15 at a house on Borupana, Ratmalana, is the aunt of Justice Minister Ali Sabry. Public Health Inspectors who came to pick up her body amidst were met protests from the family against the dead body using political influence. However, the corpse was taken to be tested and the first PCR test confirmed that the deceased woman had contracted Covid-19. However, the officers conducting the first PCR test were removed and another team was given the responsibility of conducting a second PCR test. This team prepared a fake certificate to conclude that the deceased woman not contracted COVID-19 and hence gave permission to release the corpse allowing the family to bury her in the Kalubowila Jumma Mosque cemetery, under traditional Muslim rituals. 

Below is a screenshot of the detailed narration.

FacebookArchived Link

Fact Check 

We contacted several parties to ascertain the truth behind the contents of this viral news item.

Statement by the area’s Public Health Inspector

We contacted Mr. Jayaranga, Public Health Officer of the Borupana area who told us he visited a residence at Borupana, Ratmalana after receiving information that an elderly woman had died at home. 

Although family members of the deceased woman sought permission to perform last rites, he referred her body to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in Kalubowila, explaining them that in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was necessary to conduct a PCR examination of the body in accordance with the current health regulations. PHI further said that he had received the maximum support of the family members after explaining the mandatory requirements and was not influenced by any politician.

Statement by the Judicial Medical Officer

Our next step was to contact Dr. Prasanna Dasanayake, Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in order to ascertain what happened.

Dr. Dasanayake told us that out of all the recent dead bodies sent to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital for PCR tests, only three were confirmed as Covid-19 positive cases. Two were Tamil women and one was a Sinhalese man.

Further, a statement issued by the Director General of Health on November 17th carried details of recent COVID-19 infected victim from Rathmalana.  The deceased was a 69-year-old Tamil woman residing in the 37 Watta area of Ratmalana, completely different from Borupana area.

Judicial Medical Officer also mentioned that the body of Ahmed Junaidin Fatima Nalifa, the Muslim woman who was sent for PCR tests from Borupana on November 15th resulted as negative. As such, he gave permission to release the dead body to the family members to perform the final rites. He also added that as a rule, only one PCR test is performed on a dead body.

Dr. Dasanayake added that claims about the dead body of a Muslim woman being subjected to two PCR tests by two different health official teams were completely fabricated. The body of the concerned Muslim woman was kept at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital morgue until the PCR report was received. He also emphasized that although the funeral of a Muslim person usually takes place within 24 hours, it took longer than that to release the woman’s body and that he had no political influence over his decision to release her body.

Statement by Justice Minister Ali Sabry

Justice Minister told us that his 76-year-old mother could not have a younger sister who is 83 years old as the social media report had claimed and that his aunt was very much alive in good health. Woman who died in Borupana, Ratmalana was a distant relative and that he did not even attend her funeral. Minister Sabry further stressed that all the allegations that he had influenced the obtaining of a fake PCR test and report in order to bury a Muslim woman’s body in accordance with traditional rituals were completely false

Conclusion

Our investigation clearly reveals that the report stating the deceased woman from Borupana, Ratmalana was buried as per Muslim rituals by way of a fake PCR result under the influence of Minister of Justice Ali Sabry is entirely false. 

Woman who died on November 15 at a house in Ratmalana was a distant relative of Justice Minister Ali Sabry but not his aunt. This woman’s dead body was subjected to only one PCR test, which confirmed that she was not positive for the COVID-19, hence released so her family could perform final rites.

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Title:Were the PCR records of a deceased Muslim woman from Ratmalana changed, in order to accommodate her burial

Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne 

Result: False

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