A Maltese man who died from COVID-19 in India has been cremated in Delhi, just a day after he died as he was about to be medically evacuated to Malta.

Ivan Barbara, 47, died on Friday after developing complications as he was being transferred to the air ambulance, which was set to fly him back to Malta. The plan was to treat the patient in isolation at Mater Dei Hospital's ICU.

His wife Rosanne and the newly-adopted baby girl, the reason behind the trip to India, are expected to return to Malta on Sunday morning. 

Soon after his death, it was decided that Barbara would be cremated in India since the World Health Organisation stipulates that COVID-19 victims have to be buried or cremated at once. The cremation took place on Saturday morning with a priest performing the rites. 

In a cruel twist of fate, the sources said the cremation coincided with the couple’s 19th wedding anniversary. 

Barbara, a popular notary from Tarxien, had travelled to India with his wife to adopt a baby girl in March and the family subsequently tested positive for the virus in April. Both the woman and child have since tested negative. 

The reasons behind the death have not been established though Barbara is believed to have suffered medical complications because of severe COVID-19. Health sources had said they had no option but to fly the man back to Malta, although they had warned his situation could swiftly take a turn for the worse.

Barbara and his wife had a shared Facebook page, and the last update on Monday, shared the simple words 'Pray for India'.

The adoption process in Malta is often a lengthy one, meaning future adopters often spend years in the system before they are able to bring home a child. 

According to social media posts shared by friends after his death made headlines, Barbara was “a courteous man of few words”.

He was also remembered by various colleagues, who paid tribute to him on Facebook, among them Opposition leader Bernard Grech. 

COVID-19 is currently ravaging India. The world’s second largest country recorded more than 400,000 new cases for the first time on Saturday as it battles a devastating second wave, with the country's massive new vaccination drive hampered in some areas by shortages of the shots.


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