COVID-Infected Woman, 76, Believed to Be Dead, Wakes Up Minutes Before Her Cremation

A 76-year-old Indian woman, who was believed to be dead after testing positive for the coronavirus, woke up moments before her own cremation in Baramati, a city in the state of Maharashtra.

Shakuntala Gaikwad, of Mudhale village, tested positive for coronavirus "a few days ago," according to local news. On May 10, family members took Gaikwad to a Baramati hospital after her condition worsened. Gaikwad was declined a hospital bed and as the family waited outside in a private vehicle, the woman became unconscious, leading the family to believe that she had passed away.

Gaikwad's family drove what they believed was her dead body back home and immediately began planning for a cremation. As the funeral bier was about to be set ablaze, Gaikwad opened her eyes and began crying, according to India Today.

Shakuntala Gaikwad wakes up before cremation
A 76-year-old Indian woman declared dead after being infected with COVID-19 woke up moments before her own cremation. Narinder Nanu/Getty Images

Police officer Santosh Gaikwad confirmed the incident occurred in Mudhale village. After she woke up, the woman was taken back to the Silver Jubilee Hospital for treatment.

India's COVID-19 crisis has continued to worsen in recent weeks despite a dip in new cases. On Saturday, the country reported roughly 326,000 new infections over the past 24 hours, the smallest daily rise for more than two weeks. However, the daily reported death toll remained steady at 4,000.

Over the past week, the country has reported more than 1.7 million new coronavirus cases and over 20,000 deaths. India's rapidly rising infection rate has overwhelmed hospitals, particularly in rural areas with limited access to health care facilities.

Police have started patrolling the Ganges after citizens began disposing of bodies in the trans-boundary river, according to a government official. "We keep recovering 10 to 20 bodies every now and then," said Navneet Sehgal, a spokesperson for Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern Indian with about 200 million residents.

In September, India's first wave of COVID-19 saw the country reporting nearly 100,000 cases per day. New case figures dipped by roughly 80 percent at the start of 2021, before the second surge devastated the South Asian country.

India became the second country after the U.S. to hit 20 million total cases last week.

World Health Organization Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that 2021 is expected to be a far deadlier year of the pandemic than 2020 for India.

On Monday, the WHO classified the B.1.617 variant, first observed in India's Maharashtra, as a "variant of concern" for the world that could spread at a faster rate than earlier variants.

Newsweek reached out to India's embassy in Washington, D.C., for comment. This story will be updated with any response.