A 23-year-old woman and her three-year-old son died after five people in a family consumed poison allegedly due to the fear of turning Covid positive.

Jothika and her son, Rithish died on Sunday, Jan. 9, after they consumed poison along with her mother and two brothers at their home in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu, India, according to reports.

Jothika’s 46-year-old mother, Lakshmi, and one of the brothers, 14-year-old Sibiraj are undergoing treatment at Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH). Her brother, 16-year-old Adhi is currently stable, the Times of India reported.

According to the police, Lakshmi's husband, Nagaraj, a daily wage laborer, had died due to natural causes in December last year. After the death of the sole breadwinner, Lakshmi was finding it hard to make both ends meet.

Moreover, Jothika and her toddler son had been living in the same home, following a long separation from her husband.

On Saturday, Jan. 8, Jothika told her mother that she has tested positive for COVID.

Lakshmi, who was still grieving her husband's loss, feared the virus would affect the rest of the family and question their livelihood.

On Sunday morning, police officers responded to the scene after neighbors called in reporting the family had attempted suicide by consuming poison.

Jothika and Rithish were found dead inside the home but Lakshmi, Sibiraj, and Adhi were still breathing. They were rushed in an ambulance to the GRH, where they are currently in treatment.

Adhi, who had not consumed the poison, was found to be fine, police said.

While the police began investigating, the bodies of the deceased were shifted to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

A preliminary investigation revealed the family was in depression over the fear of getting infected by the coronavirus. On Saturday night, the family members allegedly attempted suicide by consuming cow dung powder, according to reports.

A further probe is underway, police said.

A similar incident was reported from the Indian state of Karnataka in Aug. last year. The autopsy results of a couple who hanged themselves to death after displaying Covid-19 symptoms revealed that they never had the virus.

The deceased, identified as 45-year-old Ramesh Kumar Suvarna, and his wife, 40-year-old Guna Suvarna were found dead inside their home in Chitrapura near Baikampady of Mangaluru district, on Aug.17.

"We are having Covid-19 symptoms from the past few days. My wife is scared of the disease as she suffers from diabetes... I have kept Rs 1 lakh for our final rites," Ramesh reportedly said in a voice message sent to the Police Commissioner, N Shashi Kumar.

Describing the incident as a tragedy, the Karnataka Health Minister Dr. K Sudhakar had said "more than 28 lakh people have recovered from the disease. The couple had a lack of information. I urge people to get tested if they are detected with Covid symptoms. Free testing and treatment are made available to people. The doctors have learned lessons in the past one-and-a-half years of experience to deal with the Covid. No one should panic and until the vaccination drive is completed, Covid guidelines must be followed."

Representational image. Pixabay.

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