Coronavirus (COVID-19): Government authorities will perform the last rites of COVID-19 patients instead of handing the bodies over to the family. The decision has been made to avoid the possibility of mass contamination, which may occur if bodies are handled by families, officials said.
They added that families could choose for cremation in an electric furnace or burial, as per religious preference, but they will not be allowed to handle the body. The job will be done by a team of experts in personal protective equipment (PPE). The team is working in three shifts for 24-hour availability.
Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram has appointed Superintendent Land Records Rajendra Gole to supervise the work and ensure that bodies are cremated as per government guidelines.
Ram said the district has also received body bags in case families opt for a burial. “The burial will be done outside the city by digging a six-foot grave and using two plastic bags to seal the corpse. An ample amount of sodium hypochlorite will be used to ensure that no contamination occurs,” he added.
Gole said three teams consisting of four personnel each have been formed to perform the funerals. They will work in three shifts.
“We will designate an electric crematorium in the city for this purpose, where all the cremations will happen, notwithstanding the place of residence of the family. We are also in talks with the psychiatry department of BJ Medical College so that they can help us with managing the kin of the deceased, who often suffer from shock and trauma due to sudden deaths,” he said.
In Pune district, over 25 people have died of COVID-19 with more than 245 positive patients presently being treated at various designated hospitals.
PMC to cremate unclaimed bodies
The PMC has also decided to cremate bodies of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, irrespective of their religion, in case family members refuse to claim the body or take custody of it. Such incidents are on the rise due to fear of the infection spreading.
In a statement, Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said a proper procedure had been laid out for disposing of bodies at specific crematoria and burial grounds.
Gaikwad also said in some cases, family members were refusing to take custody of the body and take part in the last rites. “Bodies which go unclaimed will be cremated at a designated facility, irrespective of the religion of deceased,” he said, adding that a police panchanama would be done before the cremation.
Five gas furnaces and one electric furnace have been reserved at different crematoria along with 14 burial grounds.
If the body is claimed by a relative, then the cremation or burial will be done in the presence of family members.
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