In a bid to dispel fears that one may contract COVID-19 by attending the last rites of an infected person, but ignoring health guidelines in the process, two Punjab ministers took part in the cremation of a 55-year-old man in Rupnagar district on Thursday.
Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu and his Cabinet colleague Charanjeet Singh Channi attended the funeral of the sarpanch of Chamatli village. The two were seen standing at a distance as the pyre was lit. Both were seen wearing masks but had no other protection.
In a Facebook message and a video posted on the social media platform, the health minister said there was no danger in performing the last rites of coronavirus patients. Moreover, ashes also do not pose any danger, Sidhu said, adding that the cremation is carried out in line with the guidelines and protocols of the health department.
The coronavirus patient, who was undergoing treatment at Chandigarh’s PGIMER, had died on Wednesday. He was also suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
Protests at Jalandhar funeral
A 59-year-old man from Mitha Bazaar who had tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, a day he experienced acute respiratory distress, passed away Thursday.
When his body was taken to the Harnamdaspura cremation ground, several women of a nearby locality gathered and protested. The administration struggled for two hours to pacify the protesters. Finally, police warned them of action. Sixty people were booked later.
Family members of the deceased could not attend the last rites because they had already been shifted to the isolation ward of Jalandhar Civil Hospital where their samples were taken. His nephew lit the pyre.
Cong MLA self-isolates
Following this man’s death, Congress MLA Bawa Henry quarantined himself because Bawa had met the deceased’s son, who is also a local party leader, a few days ago when they were distributing ration kits in the area.
Mask for govt employees on duty and farmers
In Hoshiarpur, Self Help Groups (SHGs) in 12 villages have been making cloth-based washable and reusable masks which are being provided to government employees on duty and farmers who will go the fields to harvest wheat in the coming few days. Deputy Commissioner Apneet Riyat said nearly 60 people, mostly women, are preparing these masks on a daily demand base
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