The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will hire 39 hearses for carrying bodies of suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients. The civic body recently floated tenders worth Rs 4 crore to hire these hearses, of which one each will be stationed in the 24 administrative wards. The rest 15 will be deployed in civic hospitals in the city and its suburbs. According to officials, the hearses will be provided for the next two months.
Earlier, families were forced to hire ambulances to ferry bodies of the deceased to crematoriums due to shortage of hearses. The BMC also received complaints of ambulance drivers charging exorbitant sums to ferry bodies. “The hearse services will be provided round the clock.
Each hearse will have four attendants and a driver. It will also have a stretcher. There will be a partition between the driver and the section carrying the body to avoid the spread of infection,” said a transport department official. The hearse staff will work in two shifts.
Officials said in May when Covid-19 deaths and cases were rising, the civic body had hired a few hearses but that contract will end this week. As of Tuesday, the city recorded over 5,000 Covid-19 deaths and 86,132 cases.
Besides hearses, the civic body has also floated tenders to hire 70 ambulances for ferrying patients from Covid care centres to hospitals. While 25 ambulances will be deployed in the island city, another 25 will be deployed in the western suburbs. In eastern suburbs, 20 ambulances will be provided.
“In many cases when the condition of patients starts deteriorating, they need to be shifted to dedicated hospitals. These ambulances will prevent delay in treatment. The BMC will provide PPE kits to drivers,” said an official.
In the past, the BMC has faced criticism for patients not getting ambulances on time. In many cases, patients died due to non-availability of ambulances. According to officials, there are about 90 ambulances under 108. Later, the BMC added 200 more by customising BEST and school buses.
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