The novel coronavirus has claimed the life of an elderly man without him being infected. 50-year-old K Balakrishnayya became extremely fearful of the virus after reading stories of deaths and watching videos shared over social media. When he showed symptoms of the flu, he went to a hospital to get diagnosed. The doctors treated him and assured him that he had not been infected by the virus. Instead of listening to the doctors and his family, the fearful man hanged himself out of fear of infecting loved ones.

More than 1,100 people have died from the viral infection but there have been no reported casualties in India. Only three confirmed cases have been reported in Kerala, India. Balakrishnayya, resident of Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh believed that he too had caught the infection.

Balakrishnayya went to Ruia Government Hospital in Tirupati to get treatment when he started to feel ill. Doctors there treated him for urinary tract infection as well as for lung and kidney issues. The doctors were sure that the man did not have the coronavirus. However, as a precaution, he was asked to wear a mask.

Since Monday, he started behaving uncharacteristically according to his family. News 18 reported that Balakrishnayya threw stones at his family in an effort to keep them far away from him. The panicked man was scared that he would infect his family as well as the village. He did not believe that he was not infected by the novel coronavirus.

Lakshidevi, Balakrishnayya's widow, claims that the family tried to convince him that he was not infected. She stated that they tried to reach the helpline set up by the government to stop the spread of misinformation. Worried citizens were asked to call the helplines to clear any doubts they have about the disease. However, the grieving woman claims that her son's calls to the helplines went unanswered.

On Tuesday, Balakrishnayya locked his family in their home. Eventually, Balakrishnayya was discovered dead near his mother's grave. The man hanged himself from the tree near the grave. Police in Andhra Pradesh is not investigating the death, as the family has not lodged a complaint.

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The number of fatalities from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,011 nationwide on Tuesday after hard-hit Hubei province reported 103 new deaths. Photo: AFPTV / Leo RAMIREZ