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Fearing That He Had Coronavirus, Andhra Man Kills Self; Family Alleges No Response from Helplines

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Deceased K Balakrishnayya's family said he had been watching videos on social media about Coronavirus and was sure he had contracted the disease, which has killed over 1100 people in China.

Hyderabad: A 50-year old man from Andhra Pradesh allegedly hanged himself over fears that he had contracted the deadly Coronavirus, his family has said.

Deceased K Balakrishnayya, a resident of Seshamanaidu Kandriga in Chittoor’s Thottambedu mandal, was unwell for more than two weeks. His family said he had been watching social media videos on Coronavirus, which has killed over 1,100 people in China and spread to more than 20 countries.

Balakrishnayya went to Ruia Government Hospital (Tirupati) for a check-up and started acting ‘strangely’ once he returned, the family said. On Tuesday, he locked his family inside the house and hanged himself from a tree near his mother’s grave on the outskirts of the village.

“He had cold, fever and was suffering from urinary tract infection. He went to hospital for a check-up and the doctors asked him to wear a mask to stop the spread of infection. When he returned, he started acting weird with us. I tried convincing him that he was not infected with Coronavirus but he wouldn’t listen. He watched a lot of videos about the symptoms and concluded that he had the virus,” his son Balamurali said.

Balakrishnayya’s wife Lakshidevi said: “The extreme fear of Coronavirus made him take the step. My son reached out to helpline numbers which helped spread awareness but there was no response from them.”

His family said Balakrishnayya pelted stones at them and asked them to stay away even as they tried counselling him.

“The 50-year old was admitted in Ruia hospital in the last week of January and later discharged. None of the doctors told him he had Coronavirus. The man was suffering from kidney and lung issues, which is quite common in the elderly. We suspected that he could have TB, which is why he was asked to wear a mask. He had lung effusion,” Dr NV Ramaniah, superintendent of Ruia Hospital, told News18.

Thottambedu Police said no case was registered as the family refused to lodge a complaint. No cases of Coronavirus have been reported from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh so far.

first published:February 12, 2020, 14:29 IST